A TOTAL of 3.23 million people visited Scotland from overseas in 2022, new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have shown.

For the UK as a whole, 31.2 million overseas visitors were recorded in 2022, meaning Scotland took around 10.35% of the total.

The figures are massively up on 2021, when the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic meant that just 6.4 million overseas residents visited the UK, with only 480,000 coming to Scotland.

Numbers are slightly down on 2019, however, before the impact of the pandemic. That year, some 3.46 million overseas visitors came to Scotland.

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In 2022, the newest figures also show that Edinburgh is the most popular visitor destination outside London. The UK capital attracted some 16.1 million overnight visitors in 2022.

Edinburgh was a distant second, with 1.8 million overseas visitors that year, followed by Manchester (1.2 million visits) and Birmingham (803,000).

The new data comes from the International Passenger Survey (IPS), which collects information from passengers as they enter or leave the UK by the principal air, sea and tunnel routes.

Trade Minister Richard Lochhead, who also holds responsibility for tourism in the Scottish Government, said the figures were “welcome confirmation that overseas visitors are returning to Scotland in growing numbers following the pandemic”.

He went on: “The last few years have been extremely difficult for the tourism sector, not only dealing with the impacts and challenges of the pandemic but also the effects of Brexit, including staff shortages.

“Although work remains to be done, it is good to see Scotland remains an iconic destination for people around the world with visits getting back towards pre-pandemic levels. Events this year, including the Scottish Government-backed UCI World Cycling Championships and Edinburgh’s Festivals, will be a major draw to further drive an increase in tourists to Scotland.

“The Scottish Government recently launched its New Deal for Scottish Business, to provide an opportunity to discuss how government can better support businesses, including the tourism and hospitality sector, using the limited policy levers available.”