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Visit Scotland | Alba
Article published 12/04/2024

What's Tartan Day and Tartan Week?

Tartan Week recently took place from 1 - 6 April, finishing with the New York City Tartan Day Parade in Manhattan. Tartan Day is a chance for people around the world to celebrate their connections to and love for Scotland.   

The parade and key events through the week proceeding are overseen by The National Tartan Day New York Committee, with activity coordinated by the Scottish Government and partners to maximise opportunities around this.  

First celebrated in Canada in 1987, it’s now a day recognised across the globe. In 1998, the US Senate declared Tartan Day to officially recognise the outstanding achievements and contributions made by Scottish Americans to the United State.

Tartan Week gives us an exciting opportunity to make the most of a global event which spotlights and celebrates Scotland, and raises awareness of Scotland as a must-see destination. With influential contacts from media, brands, associations, education, culture and the public sector, all coming together in NYC for this celebration, it's an opportunity to promote key responsible tourism product and experiences, engage with stakeholders and identify valuable new partnerships.  

NBC New York Live interview feat Lynsey Fusco, Head of Marketing and Communications at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, Viscount Stormont of Scone Palace, New York Live host Lauren Scala and VisitScotland Market Development Manager, Gwen Raez. (Credit: NBC New York Live)

NBC New York Live interview featuring Lynsey Fusco, Head of Marketing and Communications at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, Viscount Stormont of Scone Palace, New York Live host Lauren Scala and VisitScotland Market Development Manager, Gwen Raez.  
(Credit: NBC New York Live)  

Driving North American visitor demand

Five million Americans claim Scottish ancestry and many more feel a deep affinity with our beautiful country. In fact, North America is Scotland’s most valuable international visitor market for volume and spend, accounting for 21% of all overseas trips and 38% overseas spend in 2022. 

Recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic has been positive, surpassing 2019 levels, driven by strong demand for our unique experiences, increased connectivity including more direct air links and favourable exchange rates. 

While we are still waiting for full year visitor figures to be released for 2023, we know through June to September (quarter three), Scotland was the only UK region to record an increase in visitors from North America.

Find out more about our visitors


This accounted for 29% of overseas trips and 46% of overseas spend. This was an increase in visits of 45%, and 68% in spend, compared to 2019. 

This positive direction looks set to continue. Many tourism businesses, travel trade and airline partners are telling us that this demand is continuing into 2024.

There have been new air routes added and travel trade partners and tour operators are already taking bookings into 2025. 

These visitors are crucial for the sustainable growth and resilience of our industry as long-haul visitors tend to stay longer, explore different parts of the country and spend more supporting jobs and communities. 

This year, our Tartan Week programme focused on four areas of activity:

  • PR and marketing

  • Travel trade engagement

    • Long Island Travel Advisor Association (LITAA) dinner with CIE Tours highlighting Scotland itineraries, responsible and meaningful travel options and direct air routes from New York.  

    • Roundtable with President of United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) and senior account representatives on VisitScotland’s new partnership with USA non-profit Tourism Cares highlighting trade-ready, responsible tourism experiences in Scotland as part of their Meaningful Travel Map initiative.  

    • The Travel Corporation travel advisor destination training promoting responsible travel experiences attended by Scotland Week industry representatives including Gin Bothy, Scone Palace and Edinburgh Festival Fringe.  

  • Partnerships

    • Meetings with strategic partners including Scottish Government USA, Virtuoso and VisitBritain.  

    • Meetings with local agency representatives including Laura Davidson Public Relations and Carat US.  

    • Meetings with PR content partners including Condé Naste and AFAR 

  • Scottish connections

    • We hosted a diaspora tourism event in collaboration with Scottish Government USA. 

    • We showcased new experiences to be enjoyed in Scotland in 2024 and beyond with presentations from industry representatives including Celtic Connections and Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo and providing a toolkit to support diaspora engagement and advocacy. Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary, Angus Robertson provided an update on the Scottish Connections Framework and latest case studies. 

    • VisitScotland representation at key stakeholder events including Carnegie Corporation, St Andrews Society and the New York City Tartan Day Parade.  

To learn more about our visitors from USA and Canada and what they look for in a trip to Scotland, explore the research and insights section of our website. 

Industry partner feedback | Iain Stirling, Co-Owner of Arbikie Distillery

"It's been a busy few days in New York with Arbikie Highland Estate speaking to the luxury Travel Trade about our Distillery Experience & all things sustainability that their discerning customers want to experience. Excellently facilitated by the VisitScotland team.

Great to see the Scottish North American Business Council (SNABC) well represented at the Consulate reception.

It's also been a great opportunity to meet existing & potential customers of Arbikie USA and our hard-working distributor, Winebow.

Today is Tartan Day, the annual celebration of Scotland's contribution in Canada, USA etc. The 6th April chosen, as the 1320 Declaration of Arbroath was signed in my hometown.

Happy weekend, everyone and Happy Tartan Day to all those celebrating." 

Person standing addressing a room full of people sitting down at tables.

Iain Stirling, Co-Owner of Arbikie Distillery speaking at our Tartan Week 2024 media event 

North America is Scotland’s most valuable inbound market, helping to drive our international recovery from the pandemic with demand surpassing 2019 levels.

We know there is still plenty of interest and opportunity here which is why North America is a key priority for our marketing, travel trade and partnerships activity.

Scotland Week provides us with a unique opportunity to amplify this raising awareness of Scotland as a must-see destination and build valuable connections. We have received great feedback from partners and stakeholders across the week for Scotland’s tourism offer and industry support. We look forward to building on this in the year ahead with the aim of continuing to attract high value North American visitors.

Vicki Miller, VisitScotland Director of Digital and Marketing

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