North American visitor spend on the rise

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Tourism spend from North American visitors is at its highest since 2006 in cash terms, according to the latest tourism statistics published today.

Figures from the International Passenger Survey estimate  that in 2012, North American visitors contributed  13 per cent more to the Scottish economy than in 2011.

Numbers of North American tourists also rose 20 per cent in the final quarter of 2012 (October to December) than in the same time period of 2011.

Domestic figures, published by VisitScotland, suggest that domestic tourism visits to Scotland in the last quarter of 2012 remained resilient, with visits up 4.5 per cent and expenditure up 1.8 per cent on the same quarter of 2011.

Over the 12 month period to December 2012 visitor numbers from key emerging markets were up 2 per cent, North American visitors were down 5 per cent and European visitor numbers were down 7 per cent.

The survey, conducted by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) suggests a decline in total overseas visitors from December 2011 to December 2012 of 5 per cent, with overall overseas expenditure down 6 per cent.

Figures for the whole of 2012 suggest domestic visitors decreased by 4.6 per cent when compared to the previous year. Domestic tourism expenditure in Scotland fell by 4.1 per cent.

Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing said:

“While 2012 was a very challenging time for our tourism economy with the Euro crisis deterring visitors from some of our most prominent markets, it is heartening  to see a significant rise in expenditure from North America.

“There are signs of recovery in both the domestic and international markets in the last quarter of 2012, however it is clear the industry has had a tough time due to the Olympics and miserable weather conditions.

“Everyone in the Scottish tourism industry is playing their part in helping the sector to overcome these challenges and they can be assured they have the support of the Scottish Government in doing so. 

“We will continue to work with VisitScotland and our enterprise agencies to build on this during our Year of Natural Scotland in 2013 and on into  2014 which is set to put Scotland on the global stage as we not only welcome the world to our second year of Homecoming but  Scotland  also plays host to two of the biggest sporting events in the world – the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup.”

Expenditure in Scotland by visitors from North America

Cash (current prices or CP)

2005: £286
2006: £454
2007: £340
2008: £345
2009: £288
2010: £253
2011: £311
2012: £352

Real (2005 constant price or KP)

2005: £286
2006: £442
2007: £323
2008: £318
2009: £263
2010: £224
2011: £269
2012: £301