UK visitors vital for tourism lift, data shows

Scotland’s tourism sector should target UK visitors ahead of overseas markets to kickstart a revival post-lockdown, research reveals.

A global survey reveals stay-at-home holidaymakers are the most interested in visiting Scottish destinations, and the most likely to be able to afford it.

Researchers from the University’s Business School, who led the study, analysed data from internet search engines and consumer confidence indexes to reach their findings.

They also accessed information provided by Edinburgh Tourism Action Group to build a clear picture of where tourism businesses should target their marketing in these early days of recovery.

Economic uncertainty

The study team says that sourcing information on consumer confidence is key as the country enters a long period of economic uncertainty.

Tourism businesses need to know whether people are likely to spend on visits, and not just whether they are interested in visiting, the researchers say.

The study identifies visitors from Germany – exempt from quarantine on UK arrival – as the most promising overseas market for Scottish tourism post-lockdown.

Next targets

Tourists from Austria, France, Greece, Hungary and Poland, who are also free from mandatory self-isolation, are the most likely to visit apart from Germans, the researchers add.

Although US tourists are the second-largest visitor group to Scotland, the report urges caution.

Web traffic data indicates that although many people in the US say they are interested in visiting Scotland, they do not appear to be making firm travel plans.

Free updates

A free visualisation tool, based on the findings, has been developed by the study team to ensure that as many businesses as possible can benefit from the findings.

This colour-coded global map will provide monthly updates on key visitor markets as new data becomes available.

Researchers are encouraging tourism businesses to use the tool regularly to monitor changes in the coming months.

Tourism businesses need to know whether people are likely to spend on visits, not just whether they are interested. Although international travel will resume, the domestic market will play a key role for some time. The visitor economy is of crucial importance to Edinburgh and Scotland, and I hope the material we have produced inspires business owners in their recovery plans.

Dr Ewelina LackaLecturer in digital marketing and analytics at the University of Edinburgh Business School.

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