EDINBURGH, Scotland – Fewer tourists are visiting Scotland, according to official figures.
Visitors are also spending less money, with Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing saying that last year was a “very challenging time” for the industry.
Overseas tourists made around 2.2 million visits to Scotland, 125,000 fewer than in 2011.
Tourist spending fell from just under £1.5 billion in 2011 to just over £1.4 billion last year.
Figures for domestic tourism show that people who live in the UK made 12.8 million trips to Scotland last year, down 4.6%, and spent just under £2.9 billion, down 4.2%.
Fewer visitors came to Scotland from the US, down from 436,000 in 2011 to 414,000, but spending by this group increased by £41 million to £352 million.
The number of tourists from mainland Europe fell from more than 1.5 million to around 1.4 million last year, who spent £752 million, down £140 million on 2011’s total.
Mr 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.”
Ministers will work with tourism body Visit Scotland and others “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”, he said.