What we did on our holiday? Sustained Scotland’s rural communities

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New research has illustrated the vital role tourism plays in supporting local communities across Scotland.

The study, carried out by VisitScotland, has revealed that in some communities of Scotland, such as Argyll & Bute and the Highlands, tourism employment accounts for nearly double the national average of 9%.

Tourism has the biggest impact on employment in Argyll and Bute with 17% of the population employed in the sector. Other areas that lead the way in tourism employment include Highlands (14%), South Ayrshire (13%) and Orkney (12%).

Between them, Edinburgh, Glasgow, the Highlands, Aberdeen City and Fife accounted for almost half of tourism employment in 2015 with 103,400 jobs. Overall there are 217,000 jobs relating to tourism in Scotland.

Local authorities have long recognised the important contribution of tourism to their local areas providing infrastructure that is essential for its growth, captured in the National Tourism Development Framework. The aim of this framework is to highlight the activity and investment that exists to ensure the visitor journey is as smooth and efficient as possible.

Local authorities that include the most tourism businesses relative to their population are Argyll and Bute (13.5%), Dundee (11.5%), North Ayrshire (11.3%), West Dunbartonshire (11.3%) and the Highlands (11.0%).

The top ten most visited regions in Scotland by overnight visitors are:

1. Edinburgh (2,276,000 trips)

2. Highlands (1,777,000 trips)

3. Glasgow City (1,682,000 trips)

4. Argyll and Bute (891,000 trips)

5. Perth and Kinross (721,000 trips)

6. Dumfries and Galloway (702,000 trips)

7. Aberdeen City (661,000 trips)

8. Fife (528,000 trips)

9. Stirling (432,000 trips)

10. South Ayrshire (373,000 trips)

Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “Tourism is a key part of our economy, right across Scotland. As VisitScotland’s figures show, it is vital in supporting some of our most fragile, rural communities.

“The Scottish Government and our public bodies are working in partnership with the industry to create sustainable and inclusive economic growth for everyone, throughout the year.”

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive at VisitScotland said: “Tourism is more than a holiday experience – it is integral to sustaining communities across Scotland by generating income, creating jobs and stimulating social change. More and more people are realising just how important the sector is to the economy and these figures illustrate this vital impact that is growing year on year.

“Scotland’s reputation as a quality destination relies on continued investment and innovation to ensure that current provision meets future demand. VisitScotland is working with stakeholders and businesses across the country to ensure that this happens and ultimately every visitor gets a quality experience every single time.”

For more information about the importance of tourism to Scotland, visit www.visitscotland.org