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Visit Scotland | Alba
Article published 01/10/2019

We're marking the Chinese holiday – which honours the People's Republic of China being established – with new data revealing that 87% of Chinese visitors to Scotland say they would like to return, thanks to our “beautiful landscapes”.

As well as our scenery, holidaymakers also listed Scotland’s culture, relaxing atmosphere and its family-friendliness as motivations for a return trip.

Our insights come from the initial findings of new research conducted among travellers, aged 25 - 45 from Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou in mainland China. Within the survey group were former visitors and people who have never come to Scotland before.

In recent years, China has become one of the fastest growing outbound tourism countries in the world, reflected in a 300% rise in visitor numbers to Scotland within the last 10 years according to International Passenger Survey figures.

It's now a priority market for us and this new research will give a better understanding of Chinese holidaymakers to help improve their visitor experience.

The survey found that Chinese holidaymakers, who haven’t visited Scotland before, rely on very traditional images when thinking of Scotland: bagpipes, kilts, whisky, and castles. While previous visitors also associate Scotland with images of wildlife, nature, escapism, spirit of freedom and friendly local people. Around 35% of these holidaymakers consider Scotland to be full of proud history and heritage and 30% believe it is a non-touristy destination where they can truly enjoy themselves.

Those surveyed also deemed Scotland a great place for active or outdoor pursuits and think it has breath-taking natural scenery. 

Chinese visitors to Scotland are inspired to come by iconic sights and attractions they had heard of (33%) – with Edinburgh, Edinburgh Castle, Loch Ness, the Highlands and Glasgow mentioned most often.

The top four visited locations are Edinburgh, Glasgow, the Highlands and the Loch Lomond area. The majority of visitors stayed in a hotel while in Scotland, with over half in four star and above.

During their trip they visited ancient and traditional buildings, historical sites and heritage wonders, enjoyed stories and artefacts, and experienced the great outdoors, coastlines and islands. Visitors also took in lakes, mountains and grasslands, indulged in gourmet and luxury foods, tried local delicacies and did some souvenir shopping.

As well as finding out what Chinese people think of Scotland, the research also discovered their general motivations when picking a destination to visit. They include seeking quality time in natural beauty, immersing themselves in the local culture and escaping from daily routine, and seeking relaxation.

This is a first of its kind piece of research in China by VisitScotland, which will enable us to tailor our marketing activity even further and to ensure Scotland is on Chinese travellers’ must-see list.

People in China increasingly enjoy holidays to long-haul destinations. Their growing appetite for unique and exciting experiences means that Scotland is perfectly positioned to offer them exactly what they’re looking for time and time again.

Our goal is to continue to raise awareness of Scotland as a destination in China, showcasing the great products we know appeal to Chinese visitors. We also strive to support the industry in expanding into this market and improving the visitor experience for Chinese travellers.

Tourism is more than a holiday experience - it is the heartbeat of the Scottish economy and touches every community, generating income, jobs and social change.

Hazel Sellar, VisitScotland Market Manager for China

For the full results, take a look at our China Factsheet 2018, and our latest infographic 'Understanding Chinese Holiday Makers'. Both available to download at