VisitScotland marks 50 years of Scottish tourism

On the 25 July 1969 the Development of Tourism Act 1969 was passed in to law – and it changed Scotland forever.

This subsequently led to the creation of an official Scottish Tourist Board as a statuary body. It is this that celebrates its 50th anniversary this year and VisitScotland is doing this through a series of activities dedicated to looking back at the development of tourism over the last half century.

Speaking in anticipation of the 50 year celebration of the national tourism organisation Fiona Hyslop, the Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs discussed the upcoming anniversary.

She said: ‘VisitScotland celebrates its golden anniversary this week. It has come a long way in that time and this is an appropriate point to reflect on the organisation’s journey.

‘It’s fair to say that over the last 50 years, Scotland’s tourism industry has grown to become a powerhouse of the country’s economy. Tourism has gone from a value of an estimated £100 million (£1.6 billion today) to now being worth £11 billion to the Scottish economy. That’s a staggering £9.4 billion increase over 50 years. And while 58,300 people were employed in tourism in 1969, there are 206,000 people working in the industry today.

‘Overall visitor numbers have tripled in that time, with 15.3 million visiting in 2018 compared to 5.12 million 50 years ago – the number of overseas visitors in that period has increased fivefold.’

VisitScotland also holds a significant degree of social responsibility. It works with the Family Holiday Association on ScotSpirit Breaks which was helped more than 1,000 families get a holiday they wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.

Ms Hyslop continued: ‘The continuing efforts of VisitScotland and its hard-working staff are vital to the economic sustainability of communities right across the country. It contributes to the success of one of Scotland’s most important industries and it also plays an important part in building our international reputation – in ensuring that Scotland is seen as an open, welcoming and friendly country.’

It has been VisitScotland’s help in raising the country’s profile that we have been able to host a number of major events in recent years – the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Ryder Cup and the upcoming Solheim Cup at Gleneagles in September.

Ms Hyslop said: ‘Our tourism industry continues to flourish, acting as a magnet for visitors from around the world who are drawn to our first-class attractions and unrivalled scenery. That expansion has not happened by chance.

‘Today’s success owes much to the vision of pioneers within this resilient and resourceful industry. Throughout its existence VisitScotland has given help and practical assistance to millions of visitors and businesses and has increased Scotland’s profile internationally.

‘Crucially, VisitScotland has improved the quality of the industry and visitor experience thanks to a range of accreditation schemes.’

She concluded: ‘I congratulate VisitScotland in reaching this milestone and look forward to seeing it progress even further in the years to come.’