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Visit Scotland | Alba


  • In 2023, we conducted research with a sample of people from our UK and Ireland database. We wanted to gather valuable insights from our customers to inform our marketing activities and to support the tourism industry.
  • Read more about their motivations for visiting Scotland, how they travelled here, the locations they visited, activities and how the cost of living crisis is impacting upon holiday behaviour.

Scotland Visitor Experience 2022

Published March 2023

1. Executive summary

  • Motivations

    In 2022, visitors from the UK and Ireland market were motivated to visit Scotland because they were looking for an escape, to get away from it all, to connect with nature and to revisit somewhere they have had a good experience.

  • Destinations

    The Highlands and Skye area was the most visited area, reflecting the desire expressed by many to get away from it all and connect with nature and the outdoors. Except for Edinburgh, rural areas tended to dominate.

  • Accommodation

    When booking accommodation, booking directly with accommodation providers was the most popular method (particularly for repeat visitors) followed by an online travel website (particularly for first time visitors). The majority used non-serviced accommodation, with a third staying in self-catering and a fifth camping or caravanning. Two in five stayed in a hotel.

  • Travel to Scotland

    There was a clear preference for travelling to Scotland by car, although significant proportions travelled by train and motorhome.

  • Activities

    Activities tended to be outdoor related, walking and enjoying outdoors and wildlife. Visiting historical and cultural attractions remain popular as well.

  • 2023 Holiday plans

    The cost-of-living crisis is expected to have an impact on holiday plans for 2023, particularly amongst those stating they do not plan to have a holiday. The main impact it is expected to have is staying in less expensive accommodation and doing activities that are free of charge. Taking fewer holidays was also mentioned by almost two fifths.

2. Methodology

Key objectives of this study were to understand the profile of people amongst VisitScotland’s UK and Ireland database who took a holiday or short break in Scotland between January and December 2022.

The survey explored the holiday behaviours and views of this engaged audience drawn from VisitScotland’s (VS) UK consumer database.  This audience receives marketing communications from VS, and many are loyal and repeat visitors to Scotland. The findings do not therefore represent a nationally representative sample and may not be representative of all those who may have taken holidays or short breaks in Scotland in 2022.

The data was collected by online survey by an independent research firm, Progressive Partnership Limited. Fieldwork was undertaken between 16 January and 13 February 2023.  The final achieved sample size was 3,187.

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