Skip to main content
Visit Scotland | Alba

0 min read

Ancestral tourism is a growing and important market for Scotland. Over 50 million people across the globe able to lay claim to Scottish ancestry. The scope and potential of this market for Scottish tourism is huge.


In this section:

  1. How can I boost ancestral tourism?
  2. Which Scottish ancestry sites and resources are there?
  3. Case studies: Ancestral journeys to Scotland
  4. Useful links


The explosion in DNA-based ancestry and shows set in Scotland, such as Outlander, brought Scots ancestry to the fore like never before.

Ancestral visitors to Scotland tend to...

Stay longer

Ancestral visitors tend to stay longer than average

Travel off peak

They are more likely than average to visit out with the peak summer months of July and August

Travel widely

They will visit areas across Scotland related to their own family history or ancient clan lands

Feel connection

They have strong emotional connections to Scotland and are likely to become repeat visitors.

1. How can I boost ancestral tourism?

There are real opportunities for Scottish businesses. Ancestral visitors might want to "walk in the footsteps" of their ancestors. They might want to undertake some genealogical research while visiting.

The main ancestral tourism source countries for Scotland are: the USA, Canada and Australia. Over a quarter of respondents of these countries cited Scottish ancestry as a major motivation for their trip. More than a third said their ancestors lived in Scotland.

Top tips to boost ancestral tourism

  • Know the local history

    Ensure you and your staff have at least a basic knowledge of the history of your local area, such as key historic events and sites in the region. This way, you can speak knowledgably to guests exploring their Scottish connections.

  • Know the local clans or families

    Does your area has a strong connection with particular surnames? If so, find out about any clans / families associated with those names, and any relevant clan/family sites in the areas.

  • Communicate any local ancestral ties on your website

    Ensure that you highlight local ancestral connections in your communications with potential guests. This includes highlighting the connections on your website and in newsletters.

  • Let your accommodation evoke the past

    If you are an accommodation provider, think about ways in which you could bring the history of your building or area to life for guests.

  • Film and TV are the best ads

    Keep abreast of developments in the film and TV world which feature famous Scots and events in Scotland’s history. Think of Braveheart or Outlander. Stories seen on screen encourage visitors to come to Scotland, especially those with Scottish roots!

  • Share local events

    One of the things visitors with Scottish roots love to do is meet their fellow Scots. Keep abreast of events in the local area where they can meet the locals such as Highland Games, trad music festivals, pub sessions, etc.

  • Tell the story

    Do you run a visitor attraction with historic or ancestral connections? Consider how you can tell its story in an engaging and interactive way that will really bring the story to life for ancestral visitors.

  • Guide visitors to ancestral research

    Be ready to assist those ancestral visitors who want to do genealogical research as part of their visit. Ensure you and your staff know where local records offices, libraries and family history societies are. Pay them a visit to find out what records they hold and how your guests can access them.

2. Which Scottish ancestry sites and resources are there?

Find a wide variety of Scottish ancestry sites and resources from across the country.

3. Case studies: Ancestral journeys to Scotland

The Scottish Council on Archives launched a short film. It aims to promote Scotland as a unique destination for ancestral tourists. You'll also get to see how Scotland’s rich collection of archives tell the stories of the people who have left Scotland over the last four hundred years.

Take a look at the short film which includes the economic benefits of ancestral tourism. Following it, we also included a longer film which shows the journey taken by an ancestral visitor.

4. Useful links

Related links