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The impact of COVID-19 on data and statistics

How the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted research and data collection, and in consequence, the data for tourism.

Due to the restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the availability of data from research and the ongoing statistical surveys has been severely impacted. 

Status of the national tourism statistics

International Passenger Survey (IPS)

The International Passenger Survey is conducted by the Office for National Statistics. The survey was suspended during the initial period of the pandemic, due to factors including extremely limited international visitors and the safety of interviewers undertaking the surveys.

Results from the IPS for 2021 and 2022, and quarterly data for 2023, are now available from the Office for National Statistics website here (This link takes you to an external website). Analyses of Scotland data can be found on the Observatory and there are highlight reports on here. (This link takes you to an external website). You can also find analyses for the whole of the UK and the nations on the VisitBritain website here (This link takes you to an external website).

The data for 2021 must be used with caution, as the methodology was different than in previous, pre-pandemic years. Full details of the impacts on the data can be found on the ONS website here. We have also included this information on the Observatory pages which use the data for 2021 and 2022.

GB Tourism Survey and GB Day Visits Survey

The GB surveys, commissioned collaboratively by VisitBritain / VisitEngland, VisitScotland and VisitWales, have also been impacted by the COVID restrictions, which came just as a new methodology was being introduced for these surveys. This combined impact has required much work by the partners to ensure that the data is rich and robust.

Data from the Day Visits Survey has been published for 2021 and 2022. You can find analyses from this survey on here. (this link takes you to an external website)

Data for 2022 from the Tourism Survey, which gathers data on overnight trips, will be published in September. 

Scottish Accommodation Occupancy Survey

Reports on occupancy continue to be produced on a regular monthly cycle.

Other research

The UK Consumer Sentiment Tracker

During the period of disruption, VisitScotland collaborated with VisitBritain/VisitEngland and VisitWales to develop “tracking” research on the sentiment and travel intentions of UK residents. This work also captured insights on their barriers to travel, concerns, and preferred destinations to visit within the UK. As immediate concerns on COVID have waned, the survey is now highlighting the impact of the rising cost of living on travel intentions. 

Insights and analyses from this research can be found on the Observatory (for Scotland and the UK ) and on here. (this link takes you to an external website)

Scotland Visitor Survey

This large-scale survey of visitors in Scotland, conducted in normal times every 2-3 years, had to be cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID restrictions.  It has been restarted, with fieldwork running through the main seasons in 2023. This will bring lots of rich insights on the behaviour of visitors in Scotland and will be published on completion of fieldwork and analysis in late 2023 / early 2024.