Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Number of Scottish tourism workers rises by 11%

Edinburgh Castle Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Edinburgh and Glasgow are the two biggest tourism employers in Scotland

The number of people working in Scottish tourism has risen by more than twice the rate of the UK as a whole, according to official figures.

VisitScotland said the Office for National Statistics (ONS) data showed the number of people employed in the industry in Scotland grew by 11%.

UK-wide growth was just 4% in 2014-15, according to the VisitScotland.

The 217,000 people working in Scottish tourism accounts for 9% of the total number of jobs in Scotland.

Edinburgh and Glasgow are the two biggest tourism employers. In Argyll and Bute, tourism jobs represent nearly a fifth of all employment in the region.

Visit Scotland said the figures showed tourism created jobs and sustained communities around the country.

The 15,700 tourism workers in the Highlands make up 14% of the region's total - the same percentage as Perth and Kinross, which employs 8,700 people in the industry.

West Dunbartonshire saw a 41% jump to 3,100 employees, while Eilean Siar had an increase of 22% and Dundee, 20%.

Analysis from BBC Scotland's business and economy editor Douglas Fraser

Image copyright Andrew Lockie

Tourism has been one of the brighter prospects in the Scottish economy. It should be helped by the (continuing) weakening of sterling, though the latest VisitScotland figures pre-date that Brexit effect by a year.

A rise of 17% in the number of bar staff in only one year is hard to explain at a time when the number of pubs has been falling. That makes it one indication that the precise numbers should carry a data health warning.

It is the bigger trends and the statistical direction of travel - pun intended - that matters more. The numbers highlight, for instance, how this sector differs from the rest of the economy in being disproportionately made up of businesses employing between 5 and 50 employees.

A quick glance at developments in Scotland's cities will also see healthy growth in hotel building and conversion. Serviced apartments are a growing feature, and two of them are part of a VisitScotland mission, announced today, to attract more visitors from India.

The figures suggest that employment by tour operators is down, while most other categories are up. That could signify a shift to more independent travel. That would include the big success of marketing the coastal route round the north of Scotland.

The tourism infrastructure has been stretched by that success. It will be further stretched in remoter hotels and tourism businesses if employers are unable to attract flexible seasonal staff from across the European Union.

Culture and Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: "Our tourism industry is going from strength to strength and these figures serve to highlight the vital role that tourism plays in Scotland's economy.

"They also show how important the industry is to our rural and coastal economies. Our food and drink sectors continue to play an important role in attracting our visitors and creating employment opportunities."

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said: "Tourism is more than a holiday experience. It creates jobs and sustains communities in every corner of Scotland all year round and is at the heart of the Scottish economy.

"These fantastic new figures show that, from hotel owners to waiting staff, tourism really is the driving force for providing the jobs of today and tomorrow."

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