International tourism in Scotland is recovering at a stronger rate than other UK nations and regions, according to new figures.

The Office of National Statistics latest quarterly figures for the International Passenger Survey (IPS), covering the period from July to September 2023, show that there was a total of 1,438,000 visits to Scotland from international visitors, an increase of 6% on the same period in 2022 and a rise of more than a 14% on the third quarter of 2019.

Scotland’s UNESCO Trail named in Rough Guides’ 24 best destinations

Over the summer months, international visitors spent almost £1.5 billion, up 6% on the same quarter in 2022. When adjusted for inflation, this means that in real terms, visitor spending in that period was up by 16% from quarter three in 2019.

The main purpose of trips for international visitors travelling to Scotland last summer was holidays, which accounted for two-thirds (66%) of visits and more than three-quarters of spending (76%).

European visitors were responsible for just over half of all trips during that period, followed by North American visitors. Scotland was the only UK region to record an increase in visitors from North America last summer.

Scottish tourism chief Roughead stepping down to retire

Responding to the latest IPS update, Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland Chief Executive, said: “Today’s figures are further evidence of the indisputable allure of Scotland for international visitors. Increased connectivity, favourable exchange rates and pent-up demand have all helped bring more holidaymakers to our shores.

“Our overseas visitors stay longer and spend more, which in turn supports the visitor economy. They are a crucial market for our industry, particularly while domestic visitors adjust to the impact of the cost of living.

SNP considering visitor levy charge with council tax-style bandings

“For the first three quarters of 2023, Scotland has enjoyed a strong recovery, but we cannot be complacent. We must continue building that demand, especially across key markets such as the US, Europe and the UK; inspiring visitors at those all-important planning stages and reaching them through the channels we know they use.

“While we all continue to navigate the challenging economic landscape, our priority is to use our marketing, partnership work, and business support activities to grow appetite for Scotland from all visitors – near and far – and make Scotland a year-round, must-visit destination.”

Urgent action needed to save major Scottish industry

Scotland is this year hosting a number of big events, which are certain to attract international media attention and substantial numbers of visitors.

They include the World Athletics Indoor Championships (Glasgow, March 1-3), the 152nd Open, at Royal Troon (July 14-21), and the AIG Women's Open, at St Andrews (August 21-25).