Tourist arrivals to Scotland drop in 2008

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Car Rental News - 23/02/2009


High petrol prices and a weak dollar saw a decline in Scottish visitors last year.

For the period January through September of 2008, Scotland saw a four per cent decline in visitors from England, which is its largest tourist market. The decline meant a loss of approximately 400,000 individual trips.

The figures, released by national tourism agency VisitScotland, also revealed that visits from North America decreased by 11 per cent and those from the European continent fell by eight per cent. With these figures taken into consideration, overall trip numbers fell by 700,000. In addition, the country’s normally lucrative business travel sector was hit by a 16 per cent decline.

Even with the drop in petrol prices and the pound strengthening against the dollar, tourism officials fear that worsening economic conditions and continuing tight credit could lead to a further decline in 2009, in spite of the government’s Homecoming Scotland initiative.

A Competitive Environment report commissioned by VisitScotland contains the visitor numbers, and it also shows that the impact on the Scottish tourism industry is more severe that it has been in other areas of the UK.

The report suggests that outlook for the coming months is "pessimistic", and that nearly 20 per cent of Scotland’s tourism businesses may need to lay off staff during 2009.

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