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  • The Domestic Sentiment Tracker has been running since May 2020. It explores the likelihood of UK residents to travel both within the UK (and abroad) and when and where they plan to go.
  • The study started as one that tracked intentions during the pandemic. It now explores the impact of new barriers such as the cost-of-living crisis. The research also looks at planned and future intentions to take trips.
  • The research is commissioned by VisitEngland, VisitScotland and Visit Wales and is conducted by BVA BDRC. Further information on the methodology is available within the report to download.
  • The latest report for Scotland looks back at UK residents planned travel for the period July to September 2023. It also looks ahead to November 2023 to March 2024. The report looks at those who state they intend to visit Scotland and also the intentions of those resident in Scotland.
  • The next Scotland report will be available in February 2024.

Domestic sentiment tracker: Scotland level summary

Published October 2023

1. Definitions

A number of terms are used within this research study.

Summer intenders / trip takers

  • UK residents who state their next holiday or short break will be between July and September 2023
  • Scotland summer intenders refers to those who state their holiday will be in Scotland
  • Scotland resident summer intenders refers to those who are resident in Scotland only

Autumn / winter intenders

  • UK residents who intend to take a holiday or short break between November and March 2024
  • Scotland autumn intenders refers to those who state their holiday will be in Scotland. Scotland resident autumn intenders refers to those who are resident in Scotland only
  • This research is a study about people’s perceptions, travel intentions and reassurance needed for future travel. Travel intent should therefore be interpreted as travel desire and not actual booking behaviour

2. Executive summary

The latest report for Scotland is based on data collected from fieldwork conducted between July and September 2023.

The impact of the cost-of-living crisis

Cost-of-living and personal finances are front and centre of people's minds when considering a domestic trip.

Both the UK public and Scottish public (the latter one more so) are still broadly pessimistic in relation to:

  • the cost-of-living crisis
  • the impact on them personally

47% of Scottish residents feel that the worst is still to come and 25% feel they have been hit hard.

This may have implications for people moderating their spending behaviour, including their ability or willingness to spend on leisure.

However, the impact of the crisis is not uniform and there is a group of people who feel less impacted. 10% of Scottish residents feel they they are better off than before and 24% feel they have not been affected. Retirees are more likey than other life stage groups to feel that they have not been impacted by the crisis.

Financial factors lead the way in terms of barriers to taking a domestic holiday or short break. The cost-of-fuel as a barrier to take a domestic holiday has dropped.


Implications of the cost-of-living crisis on domestic trip taking behaviour

There is a strong aspiration to take a UK domestic trip amongst the UK public but intention is not always converted to an actual trip. This trend is more apparent than in 2021.

Concern around finances is nudging UK residents to consider cutting back on their spending on UK holidays and short breaks in the next six months. People appear to be more likely to cut back on accommodation and eating out than on things to do.

Decision making is last minute, continuing a trend that started in the pandemic. 

Booking behaviour differs by income group. More affluent Scottish trip intenders are likely to book further ahead. Life stage also influences whether an intended trip happens or not with older groups more likely to follow through with booking.

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Scotland summer 2023 – trip taking behaviour

Overnight trip taking amongst the UK public is inching upwards. More UK residents took overnight trips (both UK and overseas) in 2023 than in 2022 and 2021.

Compared to 2021, there has been a fall in the proportion of younger age groups and families stating they have taken a UK summer overnight trip. There has been a rise in older age groups taking summer trips.

Amongst summer trip-takers, people appear to be travelling further afield, a return to pre-pandemic behaviour. The proportion of non-Scottish residents stating they had taken a summer trip to Scotland rose compared to the previous year.

Scotland autumn and winter 2023 – trip intender behaviour snapshot

Two in five of the UK population are anticipating taking a domestic holiday or short break this autumn or winter 2023 (at the time of research). 10% of trip intenders plan to travel to Scotland, this is a slight but not significant drop on 2022.

Families make up the largest proportion of Scotland intenders, retirees the smallest. But with retirees twice as likely to book, it is likely that they will be better respresented when it comes to actual trips taken.

The majority of autumn and winter trips are likely to be short breaks, similar to 2022. Walking, visiting heritage sites and trying local food and drink are the leading activities planned.

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Want to know more?

Explore further graphs and data visualisations on the Scottish Tourism Observatory.

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Insights and data tables of the results at a UK level are also available. The reports are made available monthly. The UK reports on the total UK sample. The reports will tell you:

  • the trip intentions for the UK sample for both UK and overseas trips
  • how many have already booked their domestic trip
  • the preferred UK location for the next overnight trip, including Scotland 

Read the UK reports on

3. Methodology

The study uses a monthly online survey based on a UK nationally representative sample of 1,500 adults aged 16 and over. The sample is then boosted in Scotland to ensure sufficient base sizes for separate national analysis.

In total, 1,750 surveys are completed, of which 250 are Scotland residents. The study is conducted by BVA BDRC.

The latest Scotland report aggregates the results from waves of fieldwork conducted between July and September 2023.

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