‘Outlander effect’ fails to save two in three tourism centres from axe
figures showed the number of international visitors jumped by 11 per cent in the year up to June 2017, with a 19 per cent rise in spending to more than £2 billion.
The biggest increase was among visitors from North America – where the subscription-only drama is particularly popular – with 38 per cent more Americans opting to visit Scotland over the year.
In all, more than 707,000 American tourists visited Scotland in the past year, spending £738 million – a 48 per cent jump compared to £495m the previous year.
The growth in visitors from North America is said to have also been fuelled by the added capacity from Delta and Norwegian Air which began additional flights between May and June.
VisitScotland chief executive Malcolm Roughead said: “It is magnificent to see such spectacular growth from international markets in what has been a busy year for tourism in Scotland.”
He added that the tourism boost was being felt “across the board” from accommodation providers to CalMac Ferries, Edinburgh and Glasgow airports. “We have heard from many who have had a record-breaking year,” he added.
But despite the tourism boom, VisitScotland confirmed it is to close visitor centres in some of Scotland’s key tourist destinations, replacing them with regional “hubs”.
The tourism body said the move – part of a two-year £10m strategy to shake up the way it delivers information to visitors – was in response to the popularity of digital services among visitors and a 58 per cent slump in footfall at its information centres.
Instead, VisitScotland is to enter “partnership arrangements” with more than 1,500 visitor attractions, car hire firms, businesses, tourism groups and local tourism experts to plug the gap for visitors.
The tourism body is also planning to create 26 key VisitScotland iCentres in high-impact locations and a range of “Coo Vans”, mobile tourist information units that will travel the country.
Marc Crothall, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, said: “We believe that VisitScotland will manage these changes in a sensitive way, ensuring that alternatives are in place to help manage local concerns.”