International visitor spending in Scotland rose 20% last year and generated almost £1.7 billion, according to new figures.

There were 2.443 million visits to Scotland from overseas in 2013, 9.8% up on 2012.

These visits generated £1.68 billion of spending in 2013, 20% up on the previous year, according to the VisitBritain figures.

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Scotland was in second place after London for total holiday spending.

Scottish cities were a big draw for visitors, with Edinburgh and Glasgow in second and third place behind London for holiday visits, beating Manchester, Brighton and Liverpool.

Just less than half (49.9%) of visits to Scotland were for a holiday, contributing to 53.2% of spending.

Mike Cantlay, chairman of VisitScotland, said: "These results are spectacular and a true testimony to the significant investment that has taken place within Scotland's tourism industry. With the success of Brave and the Year of Natural Scotland, the country benefited from an unprecedented level of international marketing which attracted more visitors from overseas and a 20% spike in spend.

"Securing new direct flight routes has also been invaluable, making it easier for visitors to reach Scotland and connect with our stunning urban and rural attractions.

"The investment in the events of 2014 such as Homecoming Scotland, the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup will undoubtedly keep up this momentum throughout this year and beyond, showcasing Scotland to a global audience and confirming its position as a world-class venue for events, business and leisure tourism, attracting more people from new and existing markets to visit our exceptional country."

The figures showed that Germany and the US are key markets for Scotland, while Norwegians and Americans vie for the top spot for business visits.

The number of visits to Scotland increased across all major journey purposes, with visits to friends and relatives seeing the strongest growth. Holiday visits increased 6% with spending on these visits up 20%.

This represents 7.4% of all visits to the UK and 8.0% of all spend in the UK.

Patricia Yates, director of strategy at VisitBritain, said: "Scotland outperformed Britain and London last year with a 20% spike in international spend. Edinburgh and Glasgow have now positioned themselves in the top three cities for international holiday visits behind London, so Scotland's growing potential as a tourist destination has never been clearer.

"London still collects the main bulk of spend, but international tourists parted with a record £1.7 billion across Scotland last year and VisitBritain's continued regional activity can help it reach £5.2 billion by 2025 (Deloitte).

"Inbound tourism to the whole of Britain has seen significant growth since the Olympics, which, with the right overseas marketing activity, bodes well for Scotland's potential after this year's Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup."