More people visited and spent money in Scotland from overseas last year than have ever done so before, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Travel Trends 2017.


The record figures were driven by European visitors, who made 1.9 million visits to Scotland, a 17% increase from 2016 – with spending increasing by £1.1 billion, a 36% increase.


Across the UK as a whole, the number of European visitors rose by just 1%, and spending fell by 1%.


Figures from earlier this year show that 2017 saw a huge increase in visits to local landmarks in Stirling, including Stirling Castle, the Wallace Monument and the Smith Museum.


Commenting, Stirling MSP Bruce Crawford said:


“Stirling will always benefit from an influx of overseas visitors to Scotland. Our local natural and historical heritage is world-renowned and an inspiring place to come to, to spend time and, importantly, money.


“At the beginning of the year, landmark sites across Stirling had reported an increase in footfall for 2017, based on 2016 figures – with the Castle reporting 18% more visitors.


“This is a real boost to our local tourism and hospitality industry here in Stirling, and having spoken to local businesses in the area, I know that this year too has seen a busy summer with visitors to the area.


“Stirling is demonstrating what it has to offer for tourists coming over, with the increase in European tourists and spending growing being much larger than that of the rest of the UK. This is the crucial relationship that we must maintain overseas to protect business and jobs here at home.”