The number of people working in Scottish tourism has risen by more than twice the rate of the whole of Great Britain, a new study shows.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and show that, between 2014 and 2015, the number of people employed in the sector grew by 11 per cent to 217,000.

The increase in Scotland is more than twice the four per cent rise in Great Britain as a whole.

The 217,000 members of the Scottish tourism industry represent nine per cent of the country’s total employment and is now at its highest level since Business Register and Employment Survey (BRES) records began in 2009.

HeraldScotland:

Edinburgh and Glasgow are the two biggest tourism employers, with 34,600 (11 per cent of the total) and 30,800 ( eight percent) respectively.

Proportionally, however, Argyll and Bute is the region where tourism has the biggest impact on employment. The 6,500 tourism workers represent nearly a fifth (17 per cent) of total employment in the region.

West Dunbartonshire, which boasts the likes of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park and Titan Crane, saw a massive 41 percent jump to 3,100 employees, while Eilean Siar and Dundee experienced increases of 22 per cent (to 1,100) and 20 per cent (to 6,000) respectively.

Tourism secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “Our tourism industry is going from strength to strength and these figures serve to highlight the vital role that tourism plays in Scotland’s economy. They also show how important the industry is to our rural and coastal economies. Our food and drink sectors continue to play an important role in attracting our visitors and creating employment opportunities.

“Scotland is famed for its warm welcome, incredible scenery and top class attractions. This was illustrated recently when Scotland was ranked second in the Rough Guides list of the best countries in the world to visit in 2017.”

Between 2014 and 2015, there was a seven per cent increase (to 89,000) in the number of people working in Scotland’s restaurants. At 41 per cent, this makes up the biggest sector of the tourism industry.

Just over 53,000 work in hotels and other accommodation - up 14 per cent to now comprise almost a quarter of the total - while 37,200 are involved in “beverage serving activities” – a sector which saw a 27 per cent increase on 2014 figures and which now comprises 17 per cent of the total.

Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, said: “These fantastic new figures show that, from hotel owners to waiting staff, tourism really is the driving force for providing the jobs of today and tomorrow. They also demonstrate the industry’s commitment to the 2020 strategy – which aims to generate economic growth through tourism.”