Published: 13th May 2021, last updated: 14th September 2023
Thousands of people flock to Scotland every year. It’s home to some beautiful places recognised worldwide for their rich history and culture, such as St Andrews, Edinburgh and Glasgow. This article will give you everything you need to know about how popular Scotland is as a tourist destination and which places are most popular amongst tourists.
Scottish Tourism Statistics: The Quick Version
Here’s a quick rundown of some key facts about tourism in Scotland:
Outside of the UK, Scotland appears to be most popular amongst those in the Republic of Ireland, Malta and Norway, as more searches are made for the term ‘Scotland’ in these countries than in any other part of the world.
The term ‘Glasgow’ is searched online approximately 700,000 times per month worldwide compared with 654,000 searches for the county’s capital ‘Edinburgh’.
In Q1 of 2020, there was £204 million total international spend in Scotland.
How Many People Plan to Visit Scotland in 2022?
In order to find out how popular Scotland is around the world, we conducted a search analysis using the tool Keyword Finder, which enabled us to obtain the figures outlined below.
The term ‘Scotland’ is searched over 900,000 times a month on Google around the world. The table below shows the top 10 countries across the globe who search for the term ‘Scotland’ the most.
Average Monthly Searches for ‘Scotland’ Per 100,000 People
Our analysis found:
The United Kingdom average per 100,000 people is over 30 times higher than the worldwide average, indicating Scotland’s desirability amongst those within the British Isles.
Aside from its popularity within the UK, Scotland also appears to be highly popular amongst those in Malta, Ireland and Norway, who conduct more searches for the term ‘Scotland’ each month than any other country.
People in Iceland, Singapore and Australia also appear to be fans of the country, alongside searches in Canada, New Zealand and Denmark.
Many people searching for Scotland also want to find out the history behind it with thousands asking for the capital and other related information. Again, this shows that the Scottish history can draw people in from all around the globe to visit Scotland.
These findings are based on average monthly searches per 100,000 people per month. To find this out, we took each of the world’s 100 most populous countries’ average monthly search volumes for ‘Scotland’, dividing this figure by each country’s population and multiplying this by 100,000. It’s important to note that just because people are searching for the term Scotland, this does not necessarily mean that they’re planning on visiting the country.
How Popular Is Glasgow Worldwide?
The table below shows the top 10 countries across the globe who search for the term ‘Glasgow’ the most. This is in terms of average monthly searches per 100,000 people per month in the top 100 most populous countries worldwide. To find this out, we used the same method as above, but for the search term ‘Glasgow’.
Average Monthly Searches for ‘Glasgow’ Per 100,000 People
The main findings we concluded were as follows:
Iceland has the most average monthly searches per 100,000 outside of the United Kingdom with a figure over 10 times higher than the worldwide average.
Ireland, Sweden and Norway follow suit, also conducting significantly more searches for ‘Glasgow’ each month than the global average.
8 of the top 10 countries that search for the term ‘Glasgow’ are in Europe.
The table below shows the top 10 countries across the globe who search for the term ‘Edinburgh’’ the most. This is in terms of average monthly searches per 100,000 people per month in the top 100 most populous countries worldwide. To find this out, we used the same method as the two tables above, but for the search term ‘Edinburgh’’.
Average Monthly Searches for ‘Edinburgh’ Per 100,000 People
A couple of key findings are:
Outside of the UK, the term ‘Edinburgh’ is searched most frequently amongst those in the Ireland who conduct approximately 18 times more searches for the city than the global average.
Much like Glasgow, 9 of the top 10 countries searching for Edinburgh are in Europe.
Edinburgh Castle is clearly a highly popular attraction amongst those thinking of visiting Scotland or wanting to learn more about the country, with an average of 210,000 searches per month worldwide. Terms such as ‘Hotels Edinburgh’ and ‘Edinburgh flights’ are also searched for tens of thousands of times a month worldwide.
In 2019 alone, there were over 150 million visits to Scotland from around the world.
Almost 6 million of those visits were from England (1 in 10 people).
There were around 10.8 million total overnight stays in 2019 across the Glasgow and Clyde Valley region.
From the USA alone, there were around 534,000 visits to the Edinburgh and Lothian region.
Scotland is clearly hugely popular with people all over the world. Although the recent pandemic may have lowered the numbers of visitors to this beautiful country, in coming months and years, this number is likely to shoot back up as more and more countries allow travel to Scotland.
Scottish tourism generates around £12 billion economic value to the wider Scottish supply chain and around £6 billion to the Scottish GDP. Although this number is huge, it’s still only around 5% of the total Scottish GDP.
In Q1 in 2020, there was £204 million total international spend on tourism. This figure is only -3% less than Q1 in 2019 even though the pandemic was starting to creep in.
From Q2 2019 and Q1 2020, there was a gigantic £2.5 billion total international spend in Scotland. Again, this highlights the country’s versatility and popularity amongst people from all walks of life.
How Popular Is Scotland In America?
In order to find out just how popular Scotland is across the whole of America, we analysed online searches over the past 12 months using the tool Keyword Finder.
Each month in America, an average of 220,000 searches are made for the term ‘Scotland’, with a further 4,800 made for ‘Edinburgh hotels’ and 1,800 for ‘Inverness hotels’. This helps paint a clear picture of the USA’s keen eye for Scotland and how its popularity has remained constant, even in the midst of the global pandemic.
Using Google Trends, we were able to determine which parts of the US search for terms related to the topic of travel in Scotland the most. Our analysis found that over the last 12 months, people in South Dakota searched for these terms the most. This was then followed closely by Wyoming and New Mexico. The state in which Scotland appeared to be least popular was Rhode Island.
The image above shows the difference between the last 5 years and the last 12 months in terms of people across America searching for travel-related queries in either Ireland or Scotland.
As you can see, over the last 12 months, there has been an enormous rise in how many people US searches for Scotland travel terms compared to the last 5 years’ average. If search volumes continue growing at this rate, Scotland could very easily overtake Ireland to be the most searched in all states.
One of Scotland’s most famous legends is that of the infamous Loch Ness Monster. The elusive Nessie attracts tourists to Scotland from all over the globe every year and has continued to since its first ‘sighting’ thousands of years ago.
In September 2019, researchers studied the biodiversity of Loch Ness, hoping to find DNA evidence of the creature. However their efforts were unsuccessful, with some claiming that the sighting could have been an eel!
As you can see from the search trends below, this was a huge talking point at the time, resulting in a surge in searches for the monster and for the Loch Ness itself.
All in all, Scotland has a great reach around the world in terms of tourism and the history this wonderful country carries with it. People travel from all over the globe to visit Scotland and witness the sheer beauty and depth it has to offer. We hope our Scottish Tourism Statistics have been useful in providing you with everything you need to know about our country’s global popularity in 2022.