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  • Visits from China to Scotland have been steadily increasing since 2009.
  • Visits to Scotland are often part of a wider UK or European trip.
  • Our factsheet highlights the latest data on the volume and value of Chinese visitors to Scotland from the International Passenger Survey (IPS).
  • The IPS was suspended in March 2020 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Data collection for 2021 and 2022 was impacted. Outbound travel from China has also been severely impacted by travel restrictions. Direct passenger flights between China and the UK resumed in August 2022.
  • These factors have had an impact on the IPS sample size for Scotland. Due to this, the latest fact sheet for Chinese visitors to Scotland is from 2019.
  • Find methodology information within the official statistics and partners section.

China factsheet 2019

Published November 2020

Key statistics


average number of visits by Chinese visitors to Scotland in 2017-2019

1.2 million

average number of nights spent in Scotland by Chinese visitors in Scotland in 2017-2019

£121 million

average spend by Chinese visitors to Scotland in 2017-2019


average nights per visit by Chinese visitors to Scotland in 2017-2019

Source: IPS, based on 3 year annual average figures 2017-2019

1. Understanding Chinese holidaymakers

In 2019, we commissioned research with active outbound holidaymakers from the three largest cities in mainland China.

The research participants were travellers aged 25 to 45 who had a propensity for long haul travel outside of Asia. A group of visitors to Scotland were also included in the research. The study was carried out by Kubi Kalloo.

Understanding Chinese holidaymakers

Published October 2019

  • Motivations

    Chinese holidaymakers were motivated by seeking quality time in natural beauty, soaking up the local culture and getting away from it all.

  • Planning and booking

    Online travel agencies, travel review sites and social media play an important role in the planning and booking stages.

  • Visitor experiences

    Unexpected experiences that wowed visitors included attending events, seeing wildlife in its natural habitat, visiting art exhibitions, road tripping and meeting new people.

2. VisitBritain MIDAS research 2022

In 2022, our partner, VisitBritain undertook comprehensive research with international leisure travellers. They spoke to global tourists from many markets, including China.

Whilst the research focuses on perceptions and experiences of Britain, there are insights which are useful for the Scottish tourism industry.

Consideration for Britain for a holiday or short break in the next 5 years (at time of research) is particularly strong for China.

Northeast Asian tourists are more likely inclined to choose destinations based more around a strong reputation for food and drink options and also more drawn to vibrant places. Value for money is less critical in choice of destination than other markets.

Read the full VisitBritain MIDAS research

3. Official statistics and partners

The International Passenger Survey (IPS) is a continuous survey carried out by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). It covers all major air, sea and tunnel ports.

The survey provides information on the numbers and types of visits made by people travelling to and from the UK. Anonymous face-to-face interviews are undertaken with a sample of passengers entering and leaving the UK.

Find out more on the survey methodology on the ONS website.

Read further ONS publications.

Read how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted on the IPS data collection.

Discover more international market factsheets

4. Additional research resources

Related links