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Scottish Tourism Observatory

Information about the Observatory, its objectives, and development

The Project

The Scottish Tourism Observatory project was born out of the development of the national strategy - Scotland Outlook 2030: Responsible Tourism for a Sustainable Future.  It was recognised that a robust evidence base is crucial for planning and decision making.  

The aim of the Observatory is to make data for tourism in Scotland easy to find and to use, and to improve and enrich the data available. 

The project received funding for the year 2021-22 from the Scottish Government as part of the support of the national action plan devised by the STERG (Scottish Tourism Emergency Response Group). It was delivered by VisitScotland with the support of the Scottish Government, the Scottish Tourism Alliance, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, and South of Scotland Enterprise.  

VisitScotland has now fully adopted the project, in order to secure its future development. 

Understanding stakeholders' needs

The project has also received invaluable support from stakeholders across the industry through their response to research and consultations and from the Industry Advisory Group which was set up to guide and advise. 

The findings from the online surveys, focus groups and consultations were key to the design of the format and content of the Observatory.  

Stakeholder views and feedback from our users will continue to guide the development of the Observatory. 

What data will I find on the Observatory?

The Observatory provides data on tourism in Scotland, covering both visitors and the industry, including topics such as visitor trends, accommodation and the visitor economy.  It also provides data on the wider tourism context, with sections on Tourism in the UK and Global Tourism.  

Often, data can be difficult to find and to use, especially if you have to search through multiple sources and compile your findings. The Scottish Tourism Observatory aims to make it easier by providing data in various formats. Interactive dashboards and visualisations provide ready-made analyses of data. Downloadable data tables are offered to allow users to create their own analyses. 

Initially, the focus has been on making existing data more available.  This "open" data can be used and shared as required. 

The website also signposts related data sources and research, through links on each page.  This includes links to "big data" sets where these are available.   

While data from commercial sources such as booking platforms, telecoms and transactions is informative, to buy this data often incurs a large cost and has restrictions which would prevent it from being shared openly on the Observatory. However, we will continue to explore the possibility of gaining access to data from commercial sources.   

Responsible Tourism

In keeping with our objective to support the national tourism strategy Scotland Outlook 2030 and the Government’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation, the Responsible Tourism section will be developed to include data relating to responsible and sustainable tourism, such as the environmental, economic and social impacts of tourism.


Another aim of the Observatory is to encourage and support the use of data in tourism.  The Community section provides case studies and project updates showing how people in Scottish tourism are using data. It also signposts sources of support for using data, such as innovation schemes and training.


Suggestions of data and information to include in the Observatory are most welcome, and details can be sent to the project team at: