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Visit Scotland | Alba
Article published 27/04/2022

Improving tourism data in Scotland

The Scottish Tourism Observatory website has now launched. It’s currently in its beta phase – an early stage of development which will continue to be tested, improved and built upon.

The aim of the Observatory is to make data for tourism in Scotland easy to find and to use.

This first phase of the Scottish Tourism Observatory is just the start of our journey to improve tourism data in Scotland. The work that’s been done has laid the foundation for future development to meet more of the data needs of tourism stakeholders.

What you’ll find on the Scottish Tourism Observatory

The Observatory will provide data on tourism in Scotland, focusing both on visitors and the industry, including topics such as seasonality, employment and the visitor economy.  It also provides data on the wider context, with sections on UK and global tourism.

Initially, the focus has been on making existing data more available. 

It has data at its core, which is shared in several ways. You’ll find interactive data dashboards and visualisations, or you can download data tables to create your own analyses. You’ll also find links to related data sources and research. 

The website includes case studies and project updates to show you how others are using tourism data in their work and activities. It is hoped this will encourage and inspire others on how data can be used to support their own business.

The project

We’ve developed the Scottish Tourism Observatory with the support of the Scottish Government, the Scottish Tourism Alliance, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, and South of Scotland Enterprise.

The project was born out of the development of the national strategy - Scotland Outlook 2030: Responsible Tourism for a Sustainable Future.  It was recognised that a robust evidence base is crucial for planning and decision making.

The project received funding for the year 2021-22 from the Scottish Government as part of the support of the national action plan devised by the STERG (Scottish Tourism Emergency Response Group). Read more about the project and what it has achieved so far.

Next steps for the observatory

The future plans for the Observatory are guided by stakeholder research and continuing engagement to help understand data needs.

The project team will continue to look for existing data sources to help meet data needs and reach out to other organisations which have data, to combine resources and build a rich picture of tourism in Scotland.

This will include data for sectors such as events and festivals, transport, activities, attractions and food and drink.

It’s hoped funding will be secured to continue the development of the Observatory in the coming year and beyond.

Dependent on future funding, future ambitions include:

  • responsible tourism data
  • solutions to improve regional data
  • forward-looking data, such as forecasts
  • build a clearer picture of tourism assets across the country
  • action plan for improving data quality overall

Work is on-going to secure funding, and in the meantime, the VisitScotland Insight team will maintain the site.

Working together

The project team hopes to work collaboratively with stakeholders across the industry and around the country. This could involve providing data and analyses for the website, sharing experiences of using data in the Community section or collaborating on the priority projects.

Please email the team at if you would like to be involved.

Related links