Monday, 22 May 2017

SCOTLAND: Scotland Attracts US Tourists Because Of Falling Pound

Scottish tourism sector is set for a boost with a rise in US tourists taking advantage of favourable exchange rates this summer.

Expedia said there had been an 80 per cent surge in UK summer bookings from America between January and March, compared with the same period last year.

The online travel firm, which is on of the world’s largest, said the US visitors were taking advantage of the 13 per cent fall in the value of sterling compared with the US dollar since the EU referendum in June last year.

Expedia’s global head of transport, Greg Schulze, said: “The best deals on air fares are coming from the US into the UK. We’re seeing discounts of 20 per cent to 30 per cent from a year prior.”

He said demand for US travel to Europe has been “resilient” despite a number of deadly terror attacks.

He added: “When there is an incident, travel is impacted. But we’ve seen it to be quite resilient.

“The reality is that people love to travel. Right now, there are good deals for Europe as a destination, especially the UK as a destination.

“It’s largely related to the currency, but also with the capacity for the airlines on certain routes and the competition that brings.”

Popular attractions such as Edinburgh Castle and Loch Ness continue to be a draw for foreign visitors, with figures released by the Office for National Statistics last week revealing an overall tourism boost in the country in 2016 – the highest number for at least five years.

Scott Sutherland, the managing partner of the Loch Ness Lodge in Inverness, said the report was “great news” with US tourists making up the biggest demographic which visited his hotel.

He said: “I think they’re a terrific group of people and I think our relationship with them should be encouraged. With people from North America there’s a fascination with our culture: they have a real love for their roots and interest in their heritage and that’s one of the reasons they come here.”

Iain Hamilton, general manager at the Loch Lomond Arms Hotel in the village of Luss, said the figures were “very encouraging” for the coming months.

He said the country was starting to see the benefits of much better travel links between Scotland and the US.

A VisitScotland spokesman said: “There is no doubt that, in terms of overseas markets, Scottish tourism has been benefiting from the favourable exchange rates being enjoyed by visitors from North America.

“Last year, we saw an 18 per cent jump in the number of visitors from this market, with increased airline capacity and a growing interest in ancestral tourism also playing an important role.”

Tourism secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “Scotland’s appeal as a world-class tourism destination is a credit to our tourism industry’s hard work which welcomed more than 2.7 million overseas visitors last year.

“Our overseas visitors spent £1.85 billion in 2016, a nine per cent increase on the previous year and a welcome boost for our tourism and hospitality sectors and wider economy.”

However, other sectors have begun to feel the sting of soaring costs following the collapse of the Brexit-hit pound, Clothing brand Karen Millen reported it would have to to hike shop prices by five per cent this year.