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Visit Scotland | Alba
Article published 24/10/2022

Exploring how Scottish holidays make people feel

It's often said that time moves more quickly as we reach adulthood because we're not experiencing as many new things as we did when we were growing up.

And it's not just a theory: it's science. When we're younger and experiencing something, it's not that those experiences are more meaningful or profound. It's just that our brains were paying closer attention to logging more of them. But just because our time seems to fly quicker once out of our adolescent days, doesn't mean we should put a stop to enriching ourselves with new adventures.


Our Scotland is Calling campaign looks to keep Scotland at the forefront of potential visitors' minds when they make travel plans. As part of this, we wanted to uncover the role this kind of nostalgia plays for visitors taking Scottish holidays to see how they feel when exploring the sights and making memories in each of Scotland's diverse regions.


Whilst it might be a first for us to pinpoint how visitors to Scotland feel about each of the Scottish regions. Pinpointing emotions and memories to places isn't something new. It's a psychological concept known as “place attachment” and explores the bond between person and place.

Our research gives us an idea:

  • How Scottish places make people feel
  • How the rest of the UK feel about the different Scottish regions
  • How visitors feel about the Scottish people


Without giving too much away, we were delighted to find that a quarter of the visitors we asked said the Scottish people play an integral part in what makes their Scottish holiday experiences more enjoyable!

It is consistently proven that human emotions are present in every aspect of our lives, including where we choose to live or visit for a holiday.

Dr Carlos Galan-Diaz, Environmental Psychologist at the University of St Andrews

Warm welcomes

It’s well known that "people" are one of Scotland’s best assets. Previous research from Cambridge University found Scottish people to be the friendliest in the UK and our latest research supports their findings.


We asked people to agree with statements they felt best described Scottish people and 90% of the statements selected were positive. Statements include:

  • "Scottish people always make them feel welcome"
  • "Scottish people play an integral part in what makes their Scottish holiday experiences more enjoyable"
  • "Scottish people always make me feel accepted"

Infographic of on-page data

What’s more, 94% of respondents said that they always have a positive experience when they visit Scotland and another nine in 10 people (92%) say that their experiences and memories of visiting Scotland make them want to return to their "special locations".

This new research shows the special place Scotland holds for many visitors as the location of special memories, connections and emotions from happiness and adventure to inspiration and calm.

Vicki Miller, Director of Marketing and Digital at VisitScotland

How does each Scottish region make people feel?

Scotland has one of the richest and most diverse landscapes in the world, where no two regions are the same. When it comes to how people feel when they travel in Scotland, happiness came out on top, with almost one in five (18%) people saying they felt this way when visiting the country.

Looking at the subsequent most felt emotions, we found that visitors felt "excited" about Scotland, with most people saying this about Glasgow, accounting for 16% of the "excited" vote.

Following feelings of excitement was those saying Scotland made them feel "inspired", with most people feeling this way about Argyll & The Isles - which is hardly shocking given its scenic landscapes and natural beauty.


Interestingly, although perhaps not surprisingly, people were most likely to feel "calm" when visiting "the heart of Scotland" Loch Lomond, The Trossachs, Stirling & Forth Valley - also, the very first place in Scotland to be granted "National Park" status back in 2002.


Infographic of on-page data

Our time spent in these places has consequences on our feelings from the moment we visit. It can be as simple as being in your favourite place and feeling a sense of happiness immediately, or it can be as long-lasting as our "moods"—for example, the satisfied feeling continuing when you get home from your favourite place.

Dr Carlos Galan-Diaz, Environmental Psychologist at the University of St Andrews

Which Scottish regions did most people have a special or emotional connection to?

Surprisingly, 50% of all respondents said they held a special memory or strong emotional connection with the city of Aberdeen and wider Aberdeenshire. But it’s not just the heart of holiday-goers that Aberdeen is capturing, it’s the love birds too.


Our research uncovered that of the respondents who said they held a special memory or strong emotional connection with Scotland because they got engaged here, 48% of them said they got engaged in Aberdeen or wider Aberdeenshire!

Of the respondents who said they held their connections with Scotland because they got married here, a whopping four in 10 (41%) said they got married in Aberdeen or wider Aberdeenshire!


Closely following Aberdeen was Edinburgh in second place, with 25% of the overall vote. Other areas scoring highly include the Highlands (11%), Dundee & Angus (10%) and Glasgow (9%).

Our latest UK marketing campaign, Scotland is Calling focuses on this appeal highlighting the ways in which Scotland can fulfil a visitor’s emotional needs. It is not just about the unmissable things you can see and do in Scotland but how it feels to experience them here which we know people missed during the pandemic.

Vicki Miller, Director of Marketing and Digital at VisitScotland

Infographic of on-page information

As humans, we have tendencies to bond with and be surrounded by other living things, and our favourite places can help to restore our bodies and minds.

Dr Carlos Galan-Diaz, Environmental Psychologist at the University of St Andrews

How do Scots and the wider UK feel about Scotland?

When looking at all the UK’s regions, the top three emotional responses about Scotland were "happy", "excited" and "adventurous".

Our research uncovered that out of all regions, the South East of England were most in "awe" of Scotland, accounting for 17% of "awe" votes. Perhaps the differing climates between the South East and Scotland can account for this.

While the South East is often regarded as the sunniest region in the UK, Scotland is one of the wettest – with the North West Highlands regarded as one of the rainiest places in all of Europe!

Escaping from the big city, Londoners were most likely to feel "adventurous" in Scotland, accounting for 20% of all adventurous votes and they were also the region most likely to encourage others to visit Scotland, with an outstanding 87% of them saying this.

Infographic of on-page information

We hope the campaign will inspire more people to discover the magic of visiting Scotland during the autumn and winter months, experience new places and create new special memories.

Vicki Miller, Director of Marketing and Digital at VisitScotland

Special places with special memories

It’s not just childhood memories captivating the hearts of people taking holidays in Scotland.

There’s no easier way to understand how Scotland makes people feel than to hear it through their own words.

We asked those who had special connections with Scotland to share their stories with us, and it’s safe to say that we weren’t disappointed.

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