New analysis of tourism data has highlighted the significant economic impact of the Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire visitor economy, valuing more than £1.1 billion of economic impact in 2023 alone.

Latest figures from independent research conducted by Global Tourism Solutions (GTS) using their Scottish Tourism Economic Activity Monitor (STEAM) model show an increase of 32% on tourism’s economic impact since 2019.

Growth was driven by more than three million visitors staying overnight in the North-east in 2023, and boosted by those travelling to the region on day visits which were also up on 2019’s numbers, with 2.5million visitors experiencing the region’s quality tourism and hospitality products and experiences.

Key information was gathered from bed stock, occupancy data and visitor attractions data, as well as intelligence from festival organisers, festivals and events, venues and transport providers to provide an aggregated overview of activity in the region in the last year.

'We can't afford to stand still'

Chris Foy, Chief Executive at VisitAberdeenshire, said: “It is extremely encouraging to see clear evidence that tourism is not just bouncing back, but is a burgeoning, vibrant sector that is making a difference to lives and livelihoods from Aberdeen to Alford and from St Cyrus to Sandend. A combination of investment in high quality infrastructure by the public and private sector and investment in VisitAberdeenshire’s work by Opportunity North East, and our local authorities is bearing fruit.

“At the heart of this story is the resilience, ingenuity and vision of tourism and hospitality businesses who are collectively employing more than 11,000 people in jobs that fit with lifestyles and open up new career prospects as the North East economy continues to diversify.”

“We know now that tourism is growing at pace, but we cannot afford to stand still. As a destination, we are scratching the surface of what is possible.”

Aberdeen City Council convener of the Communities, Housing and Public Protection Committee Councillor Miranda Radley said: “Tourism is hugely beneficial to the North East region and to our local economy.

“We live in a spectacular part of the country that has lots to offer to both visitors and locals and it is wonderful to see growth within the tourism industry, which will encourage more people to visit the region as well as offering more job opportunities.”

Cllr Alan Turner, chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee, said: “These latest tourism figures are hugely welcome for the entire region, and they are testament to the significant efforts of VisitAberdeenshire who we, along with our partners, continue to support financially to develop tourism products and services in addition to attracting more visitors to the North-east and to increase the economic spend. Aberdeenshire has so much to offer visitors – from our historic castles, golf courses and distilleries

to our award-winning museums and wealth of cafes, restaurants and bars. I know these latest figures will be heartening news to all those businesses and communities across Aberdeenshire which rely on a strong, year-round tourist spend and rest assured we will continue to work together to ensure further success in the future.”

Jennifer Craw, CEO of Opportunity North East (ONE), said: “These figures demonstrate positive momentum. The progress achieved with visitors staying longer and spending more is due to the ambition, commitment and hard work of those working in tourism. It is a key growth sector for the region and vital to long-term economic diversification. ONE has invested in the sector over the past eight years with regional and national partners: including core funding for VisitAberdeenshire, developing and leading the North East Adventure Tourism project, building the sector’s talent pipeline with the Hospitality Apprenticeship North East programme, and growing food tourism with the Provenance Festival.”

“The region has a rich and growing offer for UK and international visitors – from food and drink and city breaks to adventure tourism and heritage, all set in an outstanding natural environment. ONE will continue to support and seek additional resources to enable the people and businesses leading tourism in the region to fulfil their full potential and deliver high-skill jobs.”

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