Tourism is a vital contributor to the Scottish economy, accounting for around 8% of the country’s GDP. In 2019, the industry supported around 208,000 jobs and attracted over 35 million visitors. In fact, NatureScot estimate that the industry contributes more than £4bn to our economy each year.
The natural environment is a key tourism asset with our scenery and landscapes being the highest motivation for people to visit Scotland.
The beauty of Scotland’s landscapes, including the famous Highlands and islands, is a major draw for tourists. The country also has a rich cultural heritage, with many visitors coming to see its castles, museums, and historic landmarks. The whisky industry is also an important part of Scotland’s tourism offering, with many distilleries open for tours and tastings.
Tourism plays a particularly important role in rural and remote areas of Scotland, where it can provide a crucial source of income and employment. It helps to support local businesses and communities and can help to preserve and promote Scotland’s unique culture and traditions.
Fighting back against the pandemic
In recent years, the Scottish government has prioritised the development of the tourism sector, recognising its potential for economic growth and job creation. This has included initiatives to improve the infrastructure and accessibility of tourist destinations, as well as marketing campaigns to promote Scotland as a tourist destination.
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the tourism industry, with many businesses forced to close and visitor numbers plummeting. However, as restrictions have lifted and travel resumes, there is hope that the industry will recover and continue to play a vital role in the Scottish economy. As the industry recovers from the pandemic, it will be important for the government and other stakeholders to support and invest in the sector to ensure its long-term success.
Here are the top five places to see in Scotland, as chosen by our readers.
So, where should you go?
The capital city of Scotland is known for its historic castles, museums, and cultural events, such as the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The city’s Old Town, with its narrow, cobbled streets and historic buildings, is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Highlands of Scotland are known for their rugged beauty, with towering mountains, deep glens, and lochs (lakes). Popular tourist activities in the Highlands include hiking, skiing, and wildlife watching.
The Isle of Skye
Located off the west coast of Scotland, the Isle of Skye is known for its dramatic landscapes, including the Cuillin Mountains and the Quiraing. It is also home to a number of historic landmarks, including Dunvegan Castle and the Fairy Pools.
Scotland’s largest city is known for its vibrant culture, with a thriving music and arts scene. It is also home to a number of museums, galleries, and other cultural attractions, such as the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and the Glasgow School of Art.
The Borders region of Scotland is known for its rolling hills, forests, and rivers. It is home to several historic landmarks, including Abbotsford House, the home of Sir Walter Scott, and Melrose Abbey.
These are just a few of the many tourist destinations in Scotland. Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or outdoor adventure, there’s something for everyone in this beautiful country.