The Office of National Statistics has released the International Passenger (IPS) tourism statistics for 2022.

The figures show that there were 3.2 million visits to Scotland from overseas visitors last year, compared to 3.46 million visits over the same period in 2019.  

With no restrictions on international travel last year, overall visits to Scotland were just 7 per cent lower than pre-pandemic. However, the overall spend increased dramatically.

The overall spend by tourists reached a new January - December record of £3.2 billion, up by almost a quarter on 2019 (24%). 

There were new record periods in both July to September and October to December for spend by international visitors, resulting in a new January – December record of £3.2 billion, up by almost quarter on 2019 (24%).

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Holidays were the most popular reason for travelling, followed by visiting friends and relatives, then business.

Scotland had the highest quantity of holiday visits compared with other regions of the UK.

North America was Scotland’s most important international market last year with visits increasing by 10%. As well as an increase in trips, North American visitors were also spending more, up 70% on pre pandemic levels. This meant that visits from North America accounted for over a quarter (26%) of all inbound visits and 44% of spend during 2022.

Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland Chief Executive said: “The return of international visitors marked a significant milestone in the recovery of Scotland’s valuable tourism and events industry. These visitors stay longer and spend more, helping support jobs and communities right across the country.

“It is clear that, despite the challenges of recent years, appetite for Scotland is strong. There is a real desire and demand for our world-class offering, particularly from important markets such as North America. Every region and destination in Scotland stands to benefit from this interest.

“VisitScotland is focused on building on these shoots of recovery. Our marketing, funding, partnership work and business support activities are all designed to ensure a quality experience for visitors and make Scotland a year-round, must-visit destination.

“With several businesses already reporting strong bookings for the year ahead; increasing investment in the sector; new direct air routes and unmissable events such as the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships, there is much to suggest that 2023 will be another good year for Scottish tourism.”