Pictured: Blue Pool, Glen Rosa, Isle of Arran.
Visits and spending by overseas tourists in Scotland rose to its highest level on record last year.
Office for National Statistics Travel Trends 2017 showed the number of overseas tourists visiting Scotland rose by an astonishing 16.9% to 3.2 million, while expenditure increased by 23% to £2,300 million.
The record figures were driven by European visitors who made 1.9 million visits to Scotland, a 17% increase from 2016, with spending rising by 36% to £1,100 million. Across the UK as a whole the number of European visitors increased by only 1% and spending fell by 1%.
A range of factors made Scotland an attractive place to visit in 2017 including events associated with the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, the Outlander effect and VisitScotland digital activity.
Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland Chief Executive, said:
"These figures herald a remarkable period for Scottish tourism, with overseas visits in 2017 reaching a record high, showing that Scotland is competing on the global stage. Using our unrivalled beauty, rich history, pioneering partnerships and innovative thinking we are communicating with visitors from every corner of the world.
"Groundbreaking apps, creative digital campaigns and inspirational content means we can reach visitors and potential visitors at every step of their journey, informing the visitors of today and inspiring the visitors of tomorrow.
"Tourism is the heartbeat of the Scottish economy, causing a ripple effect which touches every industry and community, creating employment and economic growth. Buoyed by success we look forward to continuing to work across every aspect of the tourism industry to make sure Scotland is at the top of everyone's list to live and work, invest, study and visit."
Kenneth Gibson added:
"Tourism is one of the most important industries in North Ayrshire and Scotland, employing 207,000 people, creating jobs, supporting local economies and building our strong international reputation for hospitality.
"I am delighted that 2017 has been a record year for overseas tourists visiting and spending money in Scotland and believe that tourism will continue to thrive in the years and decades to come, with numbers already up on last year, with Arran having a particularly bumper year.”
The figures are available to view and are the highest for overseas tourists since the survey began in 1961/62.