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Visit Scotland | Alba

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The following data tracks the volume and value of domestic overnight tourism trips by British residents in Great Britain in 2021. It's a first release of main estimates of overnight trips in Scotland alongside Great Britain.

We sourced this update from the Great Britain Tourism Survey, tracking the period from the start of April to the end of December 2021. Data is not available for January – March 2021, due to coronavirus COVID-19 restrictions on travel during this period.

About this release

Please note that we based the estimates and statistics in this release on a new combined online survey. This replaces the separate Great Britain Tourism Survey and Great Britain Day Visits Surveys that ran until the end of 2019.

As such there is very limited comparability between historic results and the results published from 2021. These statistics have an experimental status and may be subject to change.

We'll provide further information on the methods and quality documentation.

Fast facts for 2021 (April - December)

13.6 million

overnight trips

47.1 million

nights

£2,991 million

expenditure

Summary of Scotland's domestic overnight tourism performance in 2021 (April – December)

  • Between April and December 2021, Great Britain residents took 13.6 million overnight trips in Scotland. This included 47.1 million nights and £2,991 million spent overall. We based these estimates on a sample of 1,228 trips.

    • 40% of overnight trips to Scotland during this period were holidays
    • 33% were visits to friends or relatives
    • 13% were for "other" purposes
    • 9% were business trips
  • 11% of all GB trips included an overnight stay in Scotland, with the share of total GB nights and the share of spend both also at 11%.

  • There was a gradual increase in overnight trips taken in Scotland from April 2021 onwards. The peak months were July with 2.40 million trips followed by September with 2.29 million trips.

  • The average duration of Scotland trips during the reporting period was 3.5 nights with an average spend of £220 per trip.

Total volume of trips, nights and spend to each nation of Great Britain in 2021 (April - December)

  GB England Scotland Wales
Trips (millions) 118.91 100.20 13.61 9.97
% GB trips 100% 84% 11% 8%
Nights (millions) 420.93 337.34 47.06 36.52
% GB trips 100% 80% 11% 9%
Spend (£ millions) £27,204 £22,233 £2,991 £1,979
% GB spend 100% 82% 11% 7%

Key takeaways

  • Between April and December 2021, British residents took 118.9 million overnight trips in Great Britain. This amounted to 420.9 million nights and £27.2 billion spent overall.

  • 38% of overnights taken in GB during this period were holidays, 36% were visits to friends or relatives and 7% were business trips.

  • 84% of trips taken in GB included an overnight stay in England, 11% an overnight stay in Scotland and 8% included an overnight stay in Wales.

  • There was a gradual increase in overnight trips taken in GB from April 2021 onwards with a peak volume of 19.5 million trips taken in September.

  • The average duration of GB trips during the reporting period was 3.5 nights with an average spend of £229 per trip.

  • Detailed results and further information on England and Wales are available on the VisitEngland and VisitWales websites.

    There will be a separate release of headline estimates for the volume and value of GB domestic tourism day visits in December 2022.

    There are also plans to publish a comprehensive annual report for 2021 in spring 2023. This will include more detailed findings on GB domestic overnight and day trips.

Domestic overnight tourism performance in Scotland in 2021 (April – December)

GB residents made a total of 13.6 million overnight trips in Scotland (April to December), staying for 47.1 million nights and spending £2,991 million. We based these estimates on a sample of 1,228 trips.

Year Trips (millions) Nights (millions) Expenditure (£ millions)
2021 13.6 47.1 2,991

 

The average domestic overnight visitor in Scotland in 2021 spent a total of £220 over 3.5 nights with a daily expenditure of £64.

Year Spend/trip Nights/trip Spend/night
2021 £220 3.5 £64

 

July saw the greatest volume of trips taken. This was in line with:

  • The easing of many coronavirus (COVID-19) travel related restrictions
  • The traditional holiday period, and schools being off
GBTS Graphs-07
GBTS Graphs-07

Image credit Craig Nicholson

Purpose of domestic overnight trips in Scotland in 2021 (April – December)

Holiday trips made up the largest proportion of overnight trips taken in Scotland. They accounted for two in five trips between April and December 2021.

The second largest were trips to visit friends and relatives, which made up one third of all trips.

Business trips, "other" types of trips and overnight stays as part of an overseas trip all made up much smaller proportions of the total. A similar pattern was also seen for both nights and spend.

GBTS Graphs-01
GBTS Graphs-01

Image credit Craig Nicholson

Visitors on business trips stayed the longest in Scotland on average. The second longest were those visiting friends or relatives, and holidaymakers.

Holidaymakers spent the most on average during their entire trip. The following biggest spenders were visitors in the "other" types of trip category and those visiting for business.

In terms of the average spend per night, visitors within the "other" types of trip category were the highest spenders.

 

Purpose of trip Average length of trip (nights) Average spend/night (£) Average spend/trip (£)
Holiday 3.5 82 288
Visiting friends or relatives 3.7 37 135
Business trip 4.2 55 230
Overnight stay as part of an overseas trip 2.4 76 180
Other type of trip 2.6 89 236
All trips 3.5 64 220

 

Trips taken by domestic overnight visitors to Scotland in 2021 (April – December)

Just over a third of overnight trips were to the cities and large towns of Scotland. One quarter went to the countryside / villages and another quarter to small town locations. An additional 11% of overnight trips to Scotland took place in seaside or coastal locations.

GBTS Graphs-02
GBTS Graphs-02

Image credit Craig Nicholson

There was an even spread of trips to the North, East and West of Scotland, with the three regions accounting for just under a third of overnight trips each. The South of Scotland was the main destination visited for the remaining 7% of overnight trips.

GBTS Graphs-08
GBTS Graphs-08

Image credit Craig Nicholson

Nearly half of all overnight trips to Scotland stayed in serviced accommodation. One fifth choosing to stay in someone’s private home, which includes the home of friends or relatives as well as second homes. Around one in ten trips preferred self-catering property rentals. Another one in ten chose caravan / camping / glamping.

GBTS Graphs-03
GBTS Graphs-03

Image credit Craig Nicholson

The majority of trips in April to December 2021 were single-destination trips, with just one third visiting two or more places. This reflects the proportion of holiday trips (40%), which are more likely to be multi-destination. Compare this to visiting friends and relatives and business trips, which are more likely to be to one destination.

GBTS Graphs-15
GBTS Graphs-15

Image credit Craig Nicholson

Who took domestic overnight trips in Scotland in 2021 (April – December)

Residents of Scotland generated the highest volume of trips and spend to Scotland accounting for nearly one in two trips taken. The regions of England generating the largest proportion of trips to Scotland were:

  • London
  • Yorkshire and the Humber
  • The North West of England
GBTS Graphs-14
GBTS Graphs-14

Image credit Craig Nicholson

The survey spread trips to Scotland across different age groups. Those in age ranges 16-34 followed by 35-54 generated the highest number of trips in Scotland.

GBTS Graphs-04
GBTS Graphs-04

Image credit Craig Nicholson

Scotland visitors had an average party size of 2.76 people. 27% of visitors to Scotland were solo travellers with 46% being in a 2-person party. 32% of Scotland visitors had children in their travel party (44% in the household).

 

Party composition  
Average no. of children in party 0.38
Average no. of adults in party 2.39
Average total party size 2.76
% solo travellers 27%
% 2-person parties 46%
% 3 to 4 person parties 18%
% 5+ person parties 9%
% children on trip 32%
% children in household 44%

 

A mix of life stages (see section on definitions) took trips in Scotland in 2021. Families accounted for 43% of overnight trips in Scotland, 41% of nights and 32% of spend. Although Empty nesters took 19% of trips, they contributed 28% of nights and 27% of spend.

GBTS Graphs-10
GBTS Graphs-10

Image credit Craig Nicholson

GBTS Graphs-11
GBTS Graphs-11

Image credit Craig Nicholson

GBTS Graphs-12
GBTS Graphs-12

Image credit Craig Nicholson

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