Scotland's tourism industry has recovered from the blows dealt by the foot-and-mouth outbreak and the 11 September terrorist attacks, according to VisitScotland.
Visitor numbers to Scotland have increased
The tourism agency published its annual report on Thursday which showed how the industry has managed to bounce back.
The report said that more than 20 million people took holidays in Scotland last year and spent £4.5bn.
But the agency warned that, in order for the progress over the past year to be maintained, the country needed to take tourism seriously and appreciate its impact on the economy.
Tourism figures were back to the levels for 2000 with visitor numbers up 5% on last year to 20.1 million, and an increase in overall spending of 8% to £4.494bn.
Philip Riddle, the chief executive of VisitScotland, said the tourism industry had made great strides.
He said: "We have performed better than the UK average. It has been a bounce-back from difficult times.
"Standards in Scotland have improved enormously in everything that we do, but we have to remember they have improved elsewhere in the world as well and consumers' expectations are much higher."
VisitScotland admits that the bottom line in tourism delivery is down to people working on the front line.
The report said that standards have risen, but a fifth of the complaints it receives are about the attitude of staff at hotels, restaurants and attractions.
Mr Riddle urged everyone in Scotland to play their part in presenting a welcoming image.
He said: "It is not just people working in hotels or working on airplanes, it is everyone in shops and in the street.
"I think Scots generally have a great character and a great welcome, and we should not be afraid to show that.
"That is what people really appreciate when they visit."
A VisitScotland spokesman said the new figures demonstrated that the industry had recovered in the face of some tough challenges.
He said: "Quality within Scotland`s tourism product is improving with a rise in the average star rating to three stars.
"But there is a need for the country to continue striving to raise its game."
The organisation also judged its internet venture, visitscotland.com, to have "performed well" over the year, with almost 200,000 enquiries being dealt with and £1.5m of bookings up to March this year.
Thousands of bookings were made on visitscotland.com
Up to 80% of Scotland's serviced accommodation was registered to take bookings from the site and contact centre.
VisitScotland said it had also been working to strengthen its links with the national skills sector to encourage greater skills and careers in tourism.
The spokesman added: "Direct access to Scotland from key European markets is a major platform within VisitScotland's overall strategy, and the growth in low-cost flights over the past year has been encouraging.
"And with more flights planned, there is no doubt that tourism and the country's economy will benefit."