Glasgow breaks tourism records for most international visitors in a year

Our city has built a global profile as a tourism hotspot – bringing in a whopping £319m for the economy last year

Visits and spending by international tourists in Glasgow rose to its highest level on record last year.

The number of international visitors flocking to Scotland’s largest city rose by nearly a fifth (19%) to 787,000, while expenditure increased by more than a third to £319m, according to The Travel Trends 2017 data from the Office for National Statistics.

Glasgow’s growth outperformed the Scottish average – at a national level, visits were up 17% to 3.2 million while spend rose 23% to £2.3 billion.

Just over half of international tourists to the city came from Europe – an increase of 12 per cent on 2016.

There was also a 40 per cent surge of visitors from North America, with 218,000 coming last year – making Glasgow more popular than Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool for tourists across the pond.

Around 21 per cent of overseas visitors were from countries outwith Europe and North America, including China, India, Australia and New Zealand, spending £119m.

So… business or pleasure? International tourists stayed for a collective four million nights, averaging five nights per trip. Around 54 per cent came for a holiday, while just under a quarter were over visiting friends and family.

Just under a fifth were over for work with the city welcoming a record 500 conferences – worth £123m to the economy and putting Glasgow on the world stage for business tourism.

Events such as Celtic Connections, the World Pipe Band Championships, the World Irish Dancing Championships and the World Street Dance Championships generated £34m for the city’s economy.

It comes after Glasgow’s global marketing campaign which rolled out across the US, Germany and France.

A giant digital billboard was also installed in New York’s Times Square; promoting Glasgow to the hundreds of thousands of visitors every day.

Councillor David McDonald, Chair of Glasgow Life and Deputy Leader of Glasgow City Council, said: “Attracting more international visitors through creative marketing and inspirational content is at the heart of Glasgow’s tourism plan

“Our international strategy stems from digital innovation and solid partnerships; locally, nationally and with industry. Our focus is on showcasing Glasgow as an outstanding global city – one that’s welcoming, vibrant and culturally rich with an unrivaled visitor experience and world-class customer service.

“We know the global tourism market is fiercely competitive, but there’s no shortage of compelling reasons to visit Glasgow and that’s reflected in these record figures, which is a real boost to our reputation and tourism economy.

“As we prepare to welcome thousands of tourists from across Europe over the next two weeks to the first ever European Championships, our priority now is to ensure that Glasgow messaging remains front of mind this year and beyond and that we continue to capitalise on the interest in the city that we know exists globally at present.”


Published, 31 July 2018