- By Douglas Fraser
- Business and Economics Editor, Scotland
American Linda Taylor and her friends are excited to be in Scotland for the first time.
Planning their trip for years, they finally reached the shores of Loch Ness.
Linda, from Fort Lauderdale, said a visit to Scotland has long been on their to-do list.
“Because of Covid, it was postponed for a while, and here we are – with the Loch Ness Monster,” she added.
“We saw all the castles, and it was amazing. The history, the scenery, it’s beautiful. I’m so glad I came here and hope to come back again.”
Linda is one of a growing number of Americans planning to visit Scotland.
Buoyant bookings from US visitors are fueling a strong revival for many parts of Scotland’s tourism industry, as new and innovative routes to Edinburgh take off from major US cities.
Hoteliers are reporting exceptional numbers, spurred by free publicity on the TV series Outlander, the gothic survival TV show Traitors and cruise news. The Queen’s last trip to Scotland last year.
They say the UK is one of the first countries to benefit from the reopening of international travel for Americans after the pandemic.
The relatively weak value of the British pound against the US dollar has made Britain appear to be of good value.
Edinburgh Airport started new services this month with Atlanta, Georgia and also with Calgary in Canada, and resumed services with Boston and Chicago.
After Brexit, it succeeded in attracting the majority of transatlantic cruises compared to Glasgow, which once dominated.
And the capital’s airport has a significantly higher percentage of domestic American visitors – in contrast to foreign visitors from the UK – than any other major UK airport.
From March to October last year, more than half of passengers on US flights started their journeys in the US, reaching a peak of 76% last August.
American tourists to Scotland
In 2019, before the pandemic, 636,000 US citizens visited Scotland.
Americans account for 18% of international arrivals.
Their total spending for the year amounted to £717 million.
Each US visitor spends an average of £161 per day.
Average length of stay is 6.7 nights.
Edinburgh Airport chief executive Gordon Dewar says there is a big shift in time after the summer months, with many airlines continuing to fly these routes into the autumn.
“We’re on a growth trajectory and post-Covid it’s really picking up speed.
“The US market got through the blocks the fastest. They stopped travel restrictions a year before Europe did, so they’re ready to go.”
Mr. Dewar reported that the number of transatlantic passengers this year is 25% higher than before the pandemic.
“We have more destinations, more frequency, and a really exciting development is that we have longer seasons.
“A US airline says Edinburgh is the most profitable first year it’s ever had on a transatlantic route.”
Ina Davies, of the Highland Hotel Association and general manager of the Courtyard by Marriot hotel at Inverness Airport, says many of her clients use Inverness as the base for the North Coast 500 route.
Some of them, she added, were inspired by the American version of Traitors, which was filmed at Ardross Castle in Easter Ross for both the UK and US versions.
Ms Davies said the weak pound had also boosted the number of US visitors.
But she added that there has been “a loss of confidence in ferries,” so travelers should be extra cautious about using CalMac for travel.
Adam McMaster, manager at the Clansman Hotel near Drumnadrochit on the shores of Loch Ness, also confirmed that sterling’s weakness against the dollar has had a clear effect on bookings.
“There has been a rather disappointing international tourism market over the past few years,” he explains.
“Now we’re seeing freedom of movement again. These trips need to be organized properly, so a few months back, when the pound was particularly low against the dollar, we We’ve seen these bookings inundated and that’s brought us huge profits.” the idea that this is going to be a very good year.”
Mr. McMaster said that whiskey remained the top attraction for those coming to the Central Highlands. At Loch Ness, “not everyone comes here to hunt monsters, but it’s still contagious”.
He added: “It’s a destination on a lot of people’s wish list, they’ve been planning this trip for years. So when people come here, they’re going to make the most of it and make the most of it. that’s good for the Highlands.”
Claire Spencer, from Massachusetts, says her decision to visit Scotland was influenced by the TV series Outlander.
“I’ve become an avid Outlander fan and I said I really wanted to visit the place. We had planned a trip three years ago but it was postponed because of Covid, and I did. re-plan it. So here we are.”
Shane Hunt and Nancy Duvalle, who live near Seattle, came to Scotland to celebrate his 50th birthday.
“My wife gave me the ride,” he explains.
“We’ve always loved this country. I’m a golfer. This is a golfer’s paradise.
“And whiskey is another good thing. She’s a fan of castles and Outlanders, so it made it easy for us to enjoy.”