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A boost in overseas tourism and an increase in money spent by tourists in Scotland has been welcomed by South of Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine.
Overseas tourists increased by 10 per cent in the full year 2013 and spent £1.68 billion, 20% more than in 2012.
The figures, published by the Office for National statistics, show a significant increase in tourists visiting rural areas such as the South of Scotland.
Ms McAlpine, who is also a member of the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee, said:
“This is outstanding news and shows that brand Scotland is booming on the global stage.
“Scotland offers quality experiences and visitors are prepared to spend their money in our hotels, golf courses, tourism attractions, bars and restaurants.
“Over and above this country’s breath-taking scenery, Scotland’s success is largely thanks to the warm welcome of the people who work in the tourism industry.
“This year things will be even better; there is the Year of Homecoming, The Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup which will see the eyes of the world focussed on Scotland.
“With the full powers that only a Yes vote will bring, we will be able to strengthen our economy and give a further boost to the tourism sector by cutting Air Passenger Duty. Independence will also enhance Scotland’s global reputation as we join our neighbours and friends as the world’s newest independent country.”
·         The majority of overseas visitors come from Europe as does the majority of overseas expenditure.
·         There was a 32% increase in spend from visitors from the rest of the world, excluding Europe and North America, such as Australia and India.
·         There was a significant increase, 220,000 trips in 2013 compared to 2012, in tourists visiting rural areas (the North and South of Scotland)