What are the national statistics?
The national statistics are data that is gathered, analysed and presented to enable policy development at a national level, and made available to tourism stakeholders to enable decision making and planning.
In Scotland, there are 4 sources of national tourism statistics:
- The Great Britain Tourism Survey (GBTS)
- The Great Britain Day Visits Survey (GBDVS)
- The International Passenger Survey (IPS)
- The Scottish Accommodation Occupancy Survey (SAOS)
The Great Britain Tourism Survey (GBTS) and The Great Britain Day Visits Survey (GBDVS)
Managed collaboratively by VisitEngland, VisitScotland and VisitWales, these are Great Britain-wide consumer-focussed surveys. Information is gathered from a representative sample of British residents, and the results are then analysed and reported for both Great Britain and each of the nations.
The GBTS collects data on overnight trips (including holidays, business, or visiting friends and relatives). It measures the volume and value of overnight domestic trips taken by residents and provides detailed information about the trip and the visitor characteristics.
The GBDVS collects information on “day visits” which meet the following criteria:
- Involve participation in one of 15 leisure activities;
- Have lasted at least three hours (including travel);
- Not be an activity which is undertaken 'very regularly'; and
- Be in a destination outside the respondent's place of residence (or place of work if this was the start point of the trip). The exceptions to this are trips to special public events, live sporting events and visitor attractions.
Important note - Changes to domestic tourism monitoring
Since January 2011, all results are based on residents of Great Britain only. Information on trips in Northern Ireland is collected separately, and you can find it through the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.
In 2019, alongside our partner organisations, Visit England and Visit Wales, we reviewed the GBTS and GBDVS survey scope and methods. This provided an opportunity to strengthen the consistency between the two surveys, review the questionnaires, and transition the GBTS method from offline to online. (Prior to 2020, the survey interviews for the GBTS were carried out face-to-face.)
Since 2020, the GBTS and GBDVS have been combined into a single questionnaire collected through a fully online representative panel. The annual sample size is 60,000 split by the representative population size of the GB nations.
Each respondent is asked about any overnight trips they have taken in the 4 full weeks prior to their date of interview and about any day visits that they have taken in the full week prior to their date of interview.
The International Passenger Survey (IPS)
The International Passenger Survey is a continuous survey carried out by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Data is collected at all major air, sea and tunnel ports, through anonymous face-to-face interviews.
The survey is conducted with a random sample of passengers as they enter or leave the UK. It provides detailed information on how often people travel to and from the UK, and also what type of visit they’ve made.
The data is published by ONS on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis. VisitBritain provides analyses of the data for the UK and also the nations including Scotland.
Scottish Accommodation Occupancy Survey (SAOS)
Data on occupancy in Scotland’s tourism accommodation sectors is gathered and analysed through the Scottish Accommodation Occupancy Survey. This is commissioned by VisitScotland and carried out by the Moffat Centre. It looks at a number of sectors, including: Hotels, Guest Houses and Bed and Breakfasts, Self catering, Hostels, Camping and Caravanning.
Businesses opt-in to provide their occupancy details through an online portal. This allows them to benchmark themselves against others in the industry and see how they are performing.
The richness of the data and analyses provided by the SAOS is dependent on the number of businesses participating, so accommodation businesses are strongly encouraged to opt-in and submit their data.
Full details are available from the visitscotland.org website
Accessing the national statistics
As well as the data and analyses included on the Observatory website, you can find the national statistics on the following websites
VisitScotland.org Research and Insights- analyses and insights (website)
Statistics.gov.scot - datasets to view and download (website)
VisitBritain.org - IPS data and analyses (website)
VisitBritain.org - About the IPS (website)
Office for National Statistics - IPS datasets to view and download (website)
Please also see information on the impact of COVID-19 on data and statistics