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Visit Scotland | Alba
Article published 29/05/2023

Inbound visitor statistics

The Office of National Statistics has released the International Passenger (IPS) tourism statistics for 2022.

It revealed that last year there were 3.2 million visits to Scotland from overseas visitors, compared to 3.46 million visits over the same period in 2019.  

With no restrictions on international travel last year, overall visits to Scotland were just 7% lower than pre-pandemic. However, the overall spend increased.

There were new record periods in both July to September 2022 and October to December 2022 for spend by international visitors, resulting in a new January – December record of £3.2 billion, up by almost quarter on 2019 (24%).

International inbound visits and spend to Scotland

All passengers

Quarter one 2022

Quarter two 2022

Quarter three 2022

Quarter four 2022


Visits (000)






Spend (£million)    

£184 million

£881 million

£1,407 million

£680 million

£3,151 million

Holidays were the most popular reason for travelling, followed by visiting friends and relatives, then business.

Scotland had the highest quantity of holiday visits compared with other regions of the UK.

Although holiday visits saw an 11% decrease from pre-pandemic levels, holidaymakers spent significantly more in 2022.

International visits and spend by journey purpose to Scotland 2022

Journey purpose

Visits 2022

% change versus 2019

Spend 2022

% change versus 2019

All visits



£3,151 million





£2,011 million


Visiting Friends and Relatives (VFR)



£641 million





£244 million





£256 million


International visits and spend by region of residence to Scotland 2022


Visits 2022

% change

vs 2019

Spend 2022

% change

vs 2019

All visits



£3151 million


North America



£1,374 million


Total Europe



£1,266 million


  • European Union (EU)



£1,042 million


  • EU 15



£953 million


  • Other EU countries



£90 million


Other countries



£512 million


(The overall visits consist of "North America" plus "total Europe" plus "other countries".)

North America was Scotland’s most important international market last year with visits increasing by 10%. 

As well as an increase in trips, North American visitors were also spending more, up 70% on pre pandemic levels. This meant that visits from North America accounted for over a quarter (26%) of all inbound visits and 44% of spend during 2022.

The return of international visitors marked a significant milestone in the recovery of Scotland’s valuable tourism and events industry. These visitors stay longer and spend more, helping support jobs and communities right across the country.

It is clear that, despite the challenges of recent years, appetite for Scotland is strong. There is a real desire and demand for our world-class offering, particularly from important markets such as North America. Every region and destination in Scotland stands to benefit from this interest.

VisitScotland is focused on building on these shoots of recovery. Our marketing, funding, partnership work and business support activities are all designed to ensure a quality experience for visitors and make Scotland a year-round, must-visit destination.

With several businesses already reporting strong bookings for the year ahead; increasing investment in the sector; new direct air routes and unmissable events such as the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships, there is much to suggest that 2023 will be another good year for Scottish tourism.

Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland Chief Executive


To view full 2022 results visit the VisitBritain website.

North America includes Canada and the US.

The EU total includes all current members of the European Union: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

The EU 15 includes all countries that joined the European Union before 1 January 2004: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Spain, Sweden.
*due to the nature of the IPS, data for the UK is excluded.

Other EU includes all countries that joined the European Union from 1 January 2004 onwards: Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia.

Total Europe includes all EU countries plus the following: Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Faroe Islands, Georgia, Gibraltar, Iceland, Kosovo, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Moldova, Montenegro, Northern Turkish-occupied region of Cyprus, North Macedonia, Norway, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Switzerland, Turkey.

Other countries include all countries not included within ‘North America’ or ‘Europe’.

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