A new campaign aimed at boosting the number of US visitors to Glasgow has been launched.

Glasgow, Gateway to Scotland, a partnership between People Make Glasgow and Glasgow Airport in association with The Herald, aims to capitalise on recent growth in overseas tourists by highlighting the city’s position as both a must-see destination in itself, and the ideal base for accessing Scotland’s landscapes, history and culture.

In 2017, the number of international tourists coming to Glasgow increased by one-fifth, reaching a record 787,000, with figures showing visitors spent more than one-third more than in the previous year, contributing £319 million to the city. Although the picture was strong across Scotland, Glasgow’s increases out-performed the national average. 

Glasgow’s ambitious tourism plan aims to increase total annual tourism visits from two million to three million by 2023, which would deliver a spend of £770m and create an additional 6,600 jobs in the city, according to the city’s marketing arm.

Susan Deighan, director of city marketing and external relations at Glasgow Life, said: “Glasgow is Scotland’s cultural and creative powerhouse. We’re a Unesco City of Music and one of the world’s top five sporting cities, home to world-class museums, innovative arts spaces, a rich architectural heritage and a thriving and diverse food and drink sector. 

“Our outstanding events and festivals – such as this month’s Celtic Connections – are recognised globally and we’re increasingly a first-choice tourism destination, as our record international visitor figures demonstrate. 

“We know that visitors arrive in Glasgow to see the best of our country; as Scotland’s gateway we will stimulate tourist numbers more widely across the country, which will help to achieve the national target of an additional £1 billion of visitor spend by 2020.”

She added: “A key strand of our strategy is anchored in working collaboratively with Glasgow Airport, airlines and wider city and national partners to grow direct and sustainable air routes that connect Glasgow to the international marketplace and increase our global competitiveness.”

Glasgow Airport has two direct flights from the US east coast in high season, from JFK in New York and nearby Newark, New Jersey. Convenient routes to and from US destinations and Glasgow are also available through Iceland, Ireland and London.

Mark Johnston, managing director of Glasgow Airport, said: “The US remains Glasgow’s number one international inbound tourism market and it is easy see why. Our North American visitors enjoy a wealth of choice on their welcome to Glasgow, where they can embrace all that our fantastic city and the wider region have to offer. 

“We also serve more Scottish destinations than any other airport in the UK, making Glasgow the perfect gateway to explore the very best of Scotland’s Highlands and islands.”

The Herald will run a series of features highlighting the breadth of attractions in Glasgow and beyond, which will also run in the paper’s American sister title, USA Today.