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Visit Scotland | Alba


  • A holiday spent in Scotland offers numerous reasons that justify it as a consistently excellent destination choice. Think of the richness of our landscape, the history and culture of our cities, and all the individual experiences found in between.
  • It’s not hard to guess why people are so attracted to our country. But there’s definitely value to be gained from delving into the facts surrounding this decision.
  • On this page, you will find some of the results of the Scotland Visitor Survey 2023. We explore the core reasons visitors chose Scotland and the sources of inspiration they used.
  • You will also find topic papers that explore the perceptions of Scotland and what visitors and potential visitors expect to see or feel if they took a trip to Scotland. Insight is gathered from previous VisitScotland research.

1. Scotland Visitor Survey 2023

In 2023, we commissioned the Scotland Visitor Survey to gather insight on visitor attitudes and behaviours. The scope of the survey was leisure overnight visitors only.

The survey explores the profile of the visitors who took part in the research. We collated information on the background, methodology, and key highlights from the Scotland Visitor Survey 2023.

Browse our Scotland Visitor Survey 2023 page.


Top reasons for choosing Scotland


of visitors stated scenery and landscape.


of visitors mentioned Scotland's history and culture.


of visitors mentioned outdoor activities.


of visitors highlighted visiting friends and family.

Source: Scotland Visitor Survey, 2023

Key insights on motivation and inspiration

  • Drivers for taking a holiday

    There is no single driver to taking a holiday but a combination of many. When considering potential holiday destinations, respondents were primarily wanting to:

    • travel somewhere new (38%)
    • connect with nature or the outdoors (38%)
    • spend time with loved ones (35%)


  • Motivations to visit Scotland

    What calls people to Scotland is a personal choice and can be diverse and varied. ​Our core assets continue to resonate very strongly with our visitors. Scotland’s iconic scenery and landscape and the richness of our history and culture remain as the top motivators for choosing Scotland.

  • Opportunities to use our core

    We can amplify the strength of these assets by connecting people to our legends and stories that bring history and geography together in new and surprising ways. Scots are well known for their warmth of welcome and "Scotland’s people" continues to be a  reason for choosing Scotland. This helps create the emotional connection that visitors find here.

  • Sources of inspiration

    Visitors use a range of sources of inspiration when deciding on Scotland. The main categories include:

    • personal recommendations (53%)
    • digital sources (42%)
    • film, TV, or books featuring Scotland (19%)
    • printed information (15%)

    These figures are net figures. Further break downs of each category are available within the PDF to download.

  • Film, TV, and books

    Film, TV and books have a role in inspiring visitors, helping to showcase Scotland, particularly to our overseas markets. The number of film and TV programmes mentioned shows a breadth of influence and a longevity well beyond the release year of a film or TV programme.

Hear key insights on motivations and inspiration

Scotland Visitor Survey 2023 - motivations

Published April 2024

2. Understanding perceptions of Scotland

Our past research highlighted that there are key features that people associate with a holiday in Scotland and the emotions they expect to feel when here.

Our topic papers further explore how we can promote the benefits of a holiday in Scotland and the emotional and health benefits of tourism.

What people expect to see in Scotland

These are the assets of the country that resonate most strongly with visitors and potential visitors. These include.

  • Landscape: a dramatic and breath-taking landscape
  • History and culture: our historic and cultural icons are strong and distinctive and often top of mind for visitors, particularly those who don't live in Scotland
  • People: the Scottish people are expected to be warm and down to earth, yet passionate and spirited


What people expect to feel in Scotland

The promise of an emotional experience is critical for today's visitors. The sense of connection and enrichment is often what people will remember most about visiting a country. People expect to feel specific emotions in Scotland including:

  • Awe: an intense experience with the potential to move people
  • Escapism: an expectation of experiencing real space on a holiday in Scotland
  • Spirit: people imagine that they will be able to connect directly to the spirit of Scotland, rather than just observe or witness it


Tourism as an emotional benefit

Published May 2021

The emotional benefits of tourism and the role of travel in the pandemic recovery.

Unique Scotland: Promoting the benefits of holidaying in Scotland

Published October 2019

3. Additional research resources

Related links