SCOTLAND is experiencing a summer holiday boom with record numbers of visitors travelling from across the world to explore the country's cities, hills, glens and islands.

Tourism experts, guides and visitor attraction managers claim a combination of the Brexit-influenced fall in Sterling and the 'Outlander effect' – attracting American fans of the historical time-travelling series to track down the formidable landscapes from their TV screens – are driving the tourist explosion. Scotland's increasingly high profile – the Rough Guide this year placed Scotland at number two on its top ten list of countries – is also said to be a factor.

Although official figures are not yet available for this summer's season, VisitScotland confirmed that many of the country's top attractions, including Edinburgh and Stirling Castles along with the National Museum of Scotland and the Scotch Whisky Experience, were reporting bumper years. Tour operators said bookings were up by as much as 30 per cent and island B&Bs, Highland hotels and rural restaurants contacted by the Sunday Herald confirmed they were run off their feet by an ever-growing number of guests from all over Europe, the US and further afield.

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Footfall through airports is also at an all-time high this summer. International passengers at Edinburgh Airport increased 15 per cent to 822,371 in June. Meanwhile Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) reported increased passenger numbers at its 11 airports across Scotland, with a total of 477,612 people arriving and departing between April and June 2017, up 13 per cent from the same period in 2016. Passenger numbers at both Inverness and Barra airports increased by 18 per cent and visitors to Islay went up by 26 per cent.

Simon Chiu, lecturer in hospitality and tourism at Edinburgh's Napier University, said: "From Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye there is a definite jump in inbound tourists. Statistically Scotland is doing better than the UK, perhaps because it seems more open-minded and welcoming for the EU tourist."

He claimed the Asian market was also expanding significantly, while developments like the A9 improvements were helping to open up the Highlands and tourist spending was "another good news story". However he admitted tourist infrastructure was patchy, making it difficult to find accommodation. Due to the short Scottish season investment in hotels was unsustainable, he said, suggesting more rooms could be provided by encouraging locals to consider Airbnb.

In recent months the increase in visitors to some of Scotland's most popular destinations has put strain on both locals and services with reports of tourists being turned away. Many hotels in Skye claimed to be fully booked from May and campaigns for better car parking and shuttle bus services have been launched by islanders, who claim long-term tourism strategies are needed.

Isabella Macdonald, who runs the Kinloch Lodge hotel, said: "We are incredibly busy. I describe Skye as being the new Lake District because it’s booming but it needs more investment in the infrastructure.

"We have to turn people away every day sadly. People travel across the world and think Skye is easy to find a place to stay, but some end up sleeping in cars."

Shaun Hayes, owner of the Two Harbours B&B in Harris, said the Outer Hebridean island was also"bursting at the seams". He is looking at extending accommodation in order to cope with demand. "People come from all over the world for the scenery and the draw of these unique string of islands," he said. "We are very full over the summer and we certainly have guests who have not been able to find accommodation or to get on the ferry."

Heather Reekie, marketing manager of Rabbie's tours which operates boutique Scottish packages from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness and has seen an increase in bookings of up to 30 per cent this year, said an increasing number of international visitors were keen to explore the country. "People are particularly keen on going to Skye or Loch Ness, probably as those as the places they have heard of and we try to spread that out a bit and persuade them to try out Mull, Arran or the other islands as we are aware of the effect on the local area," she added.

Figures from Calmac are also up – an extra 138,000 passengers and 41,000 cars have travelled so far this summer when compared to the same period in 2016. Figures for boat tours tell the same story. Shetland Seabird Tours has been full to capacity throughout July with up to 90 per cent of passengers on wildlife trips coming from overseas while Loch Lomond boat companies are also seeing a bumper season.

Edward Aves, managing editor of Rough Guides, said: "We’ve never been in any doubt that Scotland’s one of the world’s most beautiful countries. What made it a unanimous choice for our Rough Guide to 2017 was how much is opening up for visitors right now. There’s never been a better time to go."

Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland said: "Anecdotal feedback from our industry contacts has shown a good start to the summer of 2017 with many accommodation and activity providers reporting an increase in sales. We would encourage visitors to discover new areas of the country. Every single region hosts a diverse range of culture, history and scenery of its own from Shetland to Dumfries and Galloway."

Fiona Hyslop, the Scottish Government's culture and tourism secretary, added: "Scotland’s tourism sector continues to go from strength to strength, with our world-class attractions offering an unforgettable visitor experience for people choosing our country as their holiday destination."

Scottish holiday downers

It can be one of the most magically places on earth. But Scotland is not always a holiday maker's paradise. Here are our top ten downers:

1. Rain

2. Ferocious midges. Check out the Scottish Midge Forecast online for local severity.

3. Cafes that close at 5pm

4. Rural restaurants that finish service at 9pm

5. Homophobic B&B owners

6. Lack of accommodation

7. Trains that don't run on time

8. Twee tartan shops

9. Ferry queues

10. Did we mention the rain?