Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

2015 (or is it 2016?) tourism target gets boom and bust signals

50% by 2016I loved the optimism, if not the lack of science, logic, or reason, behind the plucking from this air of a target set by the Scottish Government for tourism (revenue) to be increased by 50% by 2015. (This was back in 2008, maybe even earlier, when I was so good at writing posts with proper links, sorry.)

And it was amusing to see that the date somehow moved from 2015 t0 2016, using similar magic… er… alchemy… er… science.

In light of this optimism, it’s interesting to take note of any tourism related stories that might pop up along the way, and consider if they suggest the target is likely to be hit – or missed – and we have seen a few of these stories in recent weeks.

Last Christmas Eve (2012), we learned that Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow had seen its 10 millionth visitor through its doors since since it reopened after a major refurbishment six years ago,which took three years and cost over £35 million. That particular visitor arrived  during a Christmas concert. Entry to the museum, located in the city’s west end, is free for all.

Its most popular exhibition to date has been on the work of the Glasgow Boys, a group of artists based in the city, which attracted 120,000 visitors in 2010.

See Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Museum tops 10 million visitors

Next was US broadcasting network CNN, which named Scotland as its top travel destination for 2013. Next was the Moroccan capital Rabat, then the Slovakian city of Kosice. Fourth place went to Sub-Saharan Africa, fifth to Gettysburg in Pennsylvania,  and sixth place was taken by Amsterdam.

See CNN names Scotland as world’s top destination

Then, the Moray coastline was listed as one of the top 20 most beautiful coastal areas on the planet. in a list produced for National Geographic.

In what was described as a massive boost for Scotland, in the world-wide ‘destinations rating’ survey, the scenic Moray coastline was voted for by experts and readers, who gave  it a higher rating than the Skeleton Coast in Namibia, and New Zealand’s Great Barrier Island.

Praised for its outstanding cliff scenery and a strong community feeling, the region was listed in the top 20 from the 99 greatest islands, coastlines and beaches.

See Moray’s coastline voted into world’s top 20 in National Geographic | Aberdeen & North | News | STV

But, Scotland’s driech grey skies remain omnipresent, and…

It was also noted that the number of tourists visiting Scotland took a sharp dive last summer, according to official figures.

The number of nights travellers spent here between July and September fell by more than 100,000 – or 12% – compared to the same period in 2011.

And, given that “50% by 2015 (oops, make that 2016)” decree issued by the Scottish Government, things don’t look so good as the amount they spent also dropped, by about £50 million, according to Office for National Statistics (ONS) data.

An alternative set of 12-month figures for the period, published by VisitScotland, suggested a 3% fall in domestic tourism visits to Scotland, as compared to the previous year, while domestic tourism expenditure fell by 2%.

However, if you like to cherry pick your reports and ignore the depressing ones, you can take comfort from an ONS International Passenger Survey, which indicated a 2% year-on-year increase in visitors to Scotland over the 12 months to September, with a 12% rise in spend.

See Visitor numbers to Scotland fall by 12%

You could also try looking at the same figures reported towards the end of last year, which did not then include the results for the Scottish tourist season, when it was reported that visitor numbers to Scotland rose by 4% in the year to June, with tourists also spending more money, according to the figures then available (which were expected to show a fall, blamed then on poor weather an economic uncertainty.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) data then showed a 7% rise in overseas visitors to Scotland, but a survey by the Scottish Chambers of Commerce at the time (October 2012) suggested that more than half of hotels saw a fall in visitors during the three months to the end of September.

See Visitor numbers rise by 4% in Scotland

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February 3, 2013 - Posted by | Civilian | , ,

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