VISITS and spending by international tourists in Glasgow rose to their highest level on record in 2017.
Travel Trends 2017 data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed the number of international visitors travelling to the city rose by nearly a fifth (19 per cent) to 787,000, while expenditure increased by more than a third (36 per cent) to £319million.
Glasgow’s growth outperformed the Scottish average — at a national level visits were up 17% per cent to 3.2 million while spend rose 23 per cent to £2.3 billion.
The ONS figures also highlighted that:
· Most of the international tourists to Glasgow last year came from Europe (400,000 or 51 per cent) and North America (218,000 or 28 percent).
· This represented a 12 per cent increase on the number of European visitors and a massive 40 per cent rise in the number of people visiting from North America compared with 2016.
· Glasgow attracted more North American visitors than Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool.
· Twenty-one per cent (168,000) of overseas visitors to Glasgow were from countries outwith Europe and North America, including China, India, Australia and New Zealand.
· International tourists stayed for a total of 4,000,000 nights, averaging five nights per trip.
· Just over half of the overseas visitors (428,000 or 54 percent ) cited holidaying as the reason for their trip, whilst 189,000 (24 per cent) visited friends and relatives, and 149,000 (19 per cent) were business travellers.
The city has a strategy — led by Glasgow Life, Scottish Enterprise and VisitScotland — for continuing to build the its global profile as a successful and must-visit tourist destination.
Growing overnight tourism visits from two to three million and positioning Glasgow as a cultural powerhouse and the ‘gateway to Scotland’ is at the heart of the plan, which aims to deliver an economic boost of £771million and create 6,600 new jobs in the city over the next six years while stimulating tourist numbers and spend more widely across the country.
The city boasted an unrivalled portfolio of cultural and sporting events and a record year for conference business in 2017, backed by a programme of global marketing, communications and digital activity.
From Celtic Connections and the city’s internationally-recognised film and comedy festivals, to the World Pipe Band Championships, the Total BWF World Badminton Championships, the World Irish Dancing Championships and the World Street Dance Championships; events held in Glasgow last year generated nearly £34million for the city’s economy.
Glasgow also welcomed a record 500 conferences, worth £123million to the city, of which 64 were international congresses and conventions; reinforcing the city’s credentials as a global leader for business tourism.
Other highlight activity included the launch of the city’s Next Stop Glasgow destination marketing campaign, rolling out promotional activity in key international markets including the US, Germany and France and welcoming visiting travel media to the city from Australia, Canada, China and Brazil.
It also involved working with Delta Airlines on a campaign to promote their direct flight from New York’s JFK airport and collaborating with key international tour operators to foster stronger business relationships with suppliers from across the city’s tourism industry.
As part of the city’s partnership with Delta, a giant digital billboard was installed in New York’s Times Square; promoting Glasgow to the hundreds of thousands of visitors who converge on one of the world’s most famous advertising hotspots every day.
Councillor David McDonald, chair of Glasgow Life and Deputy Leader of Glasgow City Council, said: “Attracting more international visitors through creative marketing and inspirational content is at the heart of Glasgow’s tourism plan.
“Our international strategy stems from digital innovation and solid partnerships; locally, nationally and with industry. Our focus is on showcasing Glasgow as an outstanding global city — one that’s welcoming, vibrant and culturally rich with an unrivalled visitor experience and world-class customer service.
“We know the global tourism market is fiercely competitive, but there’s no shortage of compelling reasons to visit Glasgow and that’s reflected in these record figures, which is a real boost to our reputation and tourism economy.
“As we prepare to welcome thousands of tourists from across Europe over the next two weeks to the first ever European Championships, our priority now is to ensure that Glasgow messaging remains front of mind this year and beyond and that we continue to capitalise on the interest in the city that we know exists globally at present.”