The Scottish tourism industry is aiming to generate an annual visitor income of £6bn.
Scotland's scenery is a a big pull for visitors
Scotland's Tourism Minister Frank McAveety believes the industry can become one of the leading drivers of economic development north of the border over the next decade.
He said tourism was one of the fastest growing parts of the Scottish economy, and the performance the industry had turned in over the last two years could be sustained long-term, so long as public and private sectors work as a single team.
We asked for your experiences of holidaying in Scotland.
And you told us about the great hospitality, super weather and lovely hotel rooms.
You also wrote about dirty towns and disappointing pubs and food.
Scotland's great, I go on holiday every weekend, to the mountains, the castles, the public gardens, etc. etc. The only problem I had was when visiting Glasgow. Can anyone tell me how you find out what bus takes you between any two given places in Glasgow? There doesn't seem to be a website that does it, and bus drivers were no help.
Alan Giles, Scotland
My wife and I had the pleasure of visiting Scotland two years ago. We found the people to be very friendly and helpful to all of our needs. We plan on visiting again soon, perhaps this coming summer.
Richard Fay, USA
Unless the Scottish Tourist Board is prepared to do something to "clean up" Scotland I can't see the tourist industry taking off in a big way. It is my opinion that Scottish towns are the dirtiest towns in the UK. The state of the pavements generally is quite embarrassing - I suggest you have a "clean up" campaign before anything else!
Anne Mathieson, England
The Scottish are some of the most welcoming people I have ever met. My husband and I stayed in a small B&B, and not only were they patient with my husband's English, they also suggested visits and answered all our questions. Yes it rained, but even the people in the street were willing to stop in the bad weather to help us find our way.
Marie Claire Delmas, France
One simple proposal to boost tourism in Scotland - build 1,000 toilet facilities along the rural routes around Scotland. Driving recently between Kintyre and Oban, I found it amazing that there was no place at all along that route where one could stop and pee! In Germany and France there are such facilities provided at regular intervals. I expect the same done here would bring a real boost to the tourism of the Scottish countryside. I'm entirely serious and in earnest about this.
Don Dennis, Scotland
I return to Scotland year on year for my holidays. Fantastic scenery, friendly helpful people and always a warm welcome - what more can you ask for?
Helen Jenkin, Wales, UK
The tourism industry is performing better but I feel there are still vast improvements to be made. These improvements must be made so we ensure that visitors continue to visit Scotland year on year as a tourist destination
Noel Patrick, Scotland
I have visited cities and also been on self organised cycling holidays in border counties. I am shortly booking walking holidays in the Avimore region. I think Scotland can and should aim for large tourist revenues. However, food is a huge problem. If well researched via reliable books, then great holidays can be had. But I fear just a casual holiday in Scotland (by cycle or foot)would result in dire food experiences.
Not that I and my friends are looking for five star expensive meals, but decent food that is well away from fish & chips, re-heated canned soups etc and the terrible old British tradition of cooking vegetables to the death and beyond.
There are many friends from UK and other parts of the world I am loath to bring to Scotland only because of the hit and miss food issue. You've got great natural ingredients so you don't even need to fret about importing fancy foreign whatevers. Friendly - yes, no need to work on this aspect. All over Scotland the people are charming.
Samantha Fuller, UK - London
Had a recent trip to Islay which was really disappointing. Pubs and food were very average and I don't understand why there is no tax break for whisky. After forking out for the CalMac ferry, it really was an expensive weekend.
Having travelled the world many times and visited many wonderful countries, I am constantly astounded with the natural beauty in my own country. The warmth of the Scottish welcome is simply a normal extension of that beauty. In response to the comment from Anne Mathieson, that is certainly not to say we cannot do more. We surely can and will. Interesting to note that as an avid mountain climber in Scotland I am constantly having to pick up rubbish that some fool has dropped. And guess what? That individual has generally not been Scottish! What a terrible shame. It is great that we are working so hard to make Scotland an open area for all to enjoy with a welcome to match. Let's hope all will keep it that way.
Rory Macgregor, Scotland
Visited Scotland (Loch Carron & Western Isles) in July this year. Plus points - booked everything online or via email (Flights, Car Hire, B&B, Ferries), friendly people and had a great time. Minus points - midges, I got about 100 bites in two weeks, and that was with the '"repellents".
Nick, London, England
Visited Oban (two nights in older hotel), Barra (one night in newer hotel, seven nights in rented cottage) and Edinburgh (two nights in older hotel) in early September, 2002. We flew between Boston and Glasgow on Iceland Air. All hotels were clean and well served. Tourism office staff in Oban (very busy) and Barra (not busy) were very helpful. Airport, railway and taxi services in Glasgow and Edinburgh were excellent. We arranged our Edinburgh visit on the internet from the school library in Barra, where we also checked our email. Weather everywhere was very good, just one rainy day in Barra. VisitScotland and other internet tourism services are indispensable and excellent. I hope to return often.
William Doyle, USA
Scotland is the most magical and amazing place on spaceship earth. It doesn't need changing, well apart from the midges perhaps. Love it for what it is and don't make it into what you want it to be. It doesn't need endless public loos either, there's plenty of rocks to hide behind!
Murray Motley, UK
As a Scot, I was very embarrassed by the poor quality and high cost of a visit to Skye in 1999. My wife (from the US) and I followed a holiday in Europe and Ireland with a week on Skye. We were overcharged on both car hire and accommodation and the quality of service was very poor. I'm proud to be a Scot but worry about suggesting a holiday in Scotland to my friends because I know how variable the quality of food and accommodation can be.
Colin G Patten, Canada
I have been to Scotland on several occasions and I have found the underlying anti-English feeling present in a lot of Scottish attitudes very off putting. It is a lovely country - but why should I go somewhere where my nationality is only tolerated because I have money in my pocket!
Sue Smith, England
I hope some of the £6bn goes towards improving pay and providing sick pay and decent pensions for the staff who will provide our uniformly high standards of cheerful, quality service. Hotels are notorious for low pay, long hours, and poor working conditions.
Dorothy Sharkey, Scotland
One thing that could help Scotland immensely would be to re-open the many many regional railway lines that were closed in the 60's - visitors love railways and that combined with Scotland's stunning scenery would make for an irresistible combination!
Jeff Duncan, Dundee, Scotland
Scotland is a fabulous place, full of interesting places to visit. We had a fabulous week on the west coast near Loch Scammadale. We went up to Skye and it was excellent. Can't say that congestion charging will help tourism though.
Geoff Hirst, Scotland
As I am lucky enough to live in Scotland, I regularly enjoy weekends away, mainly up the West coast, as well as skiing at every opportunity when the conditions are right. I've been all over the world, and I think that on a nice day, Scotland beats other mountainous regions such as Canada, the Alps, New Zealand, purely because it is so unique. Places such as Glencoe are eerie and haunting, whereas the western isles are awe inspiring.
However, the one bugbear I have about Scottish tourism, is that many of the towns where you might want to stay are so grim I usually book a log cabin by a loch (or drive home at the end of the day). Even Fort William, next to the pride of Scotland - Ben Nevis, is pretty unpleasant. If anyone disagrees, I challenge them to try Banff or Whistler in Canada. Large, purpose built "towns", mainly timber construction, loads of restaurants, bars, good accommodation etc. Scotland needs a few places like this in key areas, and people will flock there from all over the UK. Aviemore was a first attempt which fell on its face - if it was executed correctly, who knows how many people might include a week in the Cairngorms as a must do on their annual holiday plans.
Andy Wallace, Scotland
Scotland is a great place for tourists, ruined by inept and amateur people in the tourism industry. What other place can claim that in certain towns (from my own experiences) the tourist offices and some local attractions are closed on public holidays (the very days that most people get a chance to visit).David, Scotland
So much is written about bodies such as VisitScotland but the real problem within the Scottish Tourism industry are those on the front line. Too many hotels provide poor customer service, food is abysmal and no real effort is made to improve. This can be said for many of the bed and breakfasts and even shops, many of whom sell tacky tat. Quality is a huge issue for the tourist industry in Scotland. We simply don't offer value for money. We need a maturity which is born from understanding the competition in other countries and meeting the needs and wants of those who may come here.
Ian McEwan, Scotland
I have had some fantastic holidays in Scotland. The Highlands have such a lovely feeling of community that it is a pleasure to visit them. I tend to find that the worst places to visit are the ones that are trying for the Japanese and American markets. They tend to be superficial and overpriced. The only thing that might improve the Highland area is better transportation links (like an airport?). It is lovely when you are there, it is just a bit of a pain getting there in the first place. Why visit Scotland (with a minimum of a seven hour drive each way) when you could fly somewhere hot instead? Answer that and you have got the market cracked!
Simon Adams, England
Lets start by being more family friendly. I can take my family to France for a fortnights holiday, for the same price that I can to Scotland. Where is the attraction here of going to Scotland on holiday? Accommodation owners are notorious for over charging - lets get some realistic pricing.
David Norris, UK
Until Scotland wakes up to doing things today and not putting things off until hell freezes over, £6bn is just a joke sum. Tourism is a service sector, but there are a few people bent on not doing a service to Scotland's tourists. People with these types of attitudes, plus the anti-English ones, need to look beyond the end of their noses if we are not to be left behind with the dregs of tourism.
From personal experience I know a lot of overseas visitors come to Scotland to "discover their roots" and hope to find a headstone or some trace of their ancestors in the overgrown and crumbling Victorian graveyards in Edinburgh, Glasgow and elsewhere. Maybe some of the money could be spent on repairs and providing some sort of searchable database of burials. Folk visit Scotland for all sorts of reasons - some not so obvious!
Alan Wilson, Scotland
Grumpy staff, rainy days, poor standard hotels, shop opening hours in the dark ages, no international airports ,food, drink and petrol that is obnoxiously expensive and mostly not very good..... Mmmmmm.....or a holiday in the sun relaxing by the med ? As they say in the USA, "you do the math" !
As someone who works in the tourism industry I feel that people are the key to the attraction and retention of visitors to Scotland, and therefore the foundation on which we will grow the industry in this wonderful country. Scots need to believe that they are working in an important industry, for the improvement of Scotland for every one. How can this be done? Training, recognition of good work and most of all a change of public attitude to recognise the importance of working in the "service industries". The service providers are ultimately the people who "sell" Scotland to tourists, so these people must be comfortable in this role and believe in the product they sell.
When in Oban Tourist Information in Sept, I watched with mild horror whilst a group of Germans were questioned quite brusquely and given a mild rebuke for arriving late and wanting accommodation for that night. They looked quite embarrassed and uncomfortable.
A few hours before that I had gone to a pub noted for hearty lunches to be told that they only did sandwiches nowadays due to a lack of demand. This again delivered without apology. I left.
This was at a time when the local press were anguished over the huge fall in tourism revenue locally. This shows the need for better customer service skills in Scottish tourism. B&B and eating out price rises well above inflation and the strong pound have caused a noticeable drop in German and Dutch tourists compared with 10 years ago.
Andy Campbell, England
Scotland is a very beautiful country well able to support tourism centred on outdoor activities such as mountaineering, hiking and cycling. Sadly, participation in these activities can be impeded by laws on access to land, and in particular relating to deer stalking. Hopefully, new legislation will minimise these difficulties and ensure that outdoor activities make an increased contribution to the local economy.
Direct flights between the US and Edinburgh and Glasgow would go a long way. Presently we have to connect through England, Ireland or Iceland.
I've had many good holidays in Scotland both on the mainland and on the islands. I mainly take my motor home but I have stayed in hotels and guesthouses. I have never ever had a bad experience in all the years I've been going - weather wise, well, I've been in the deepest of winters and nearly got stranded on Arran and I've had the most glorious weather in May plus the bits in between!!!
You could say I'm a Scotsophile or whatever the term is - I could up sticks and live up there and in fact it's an option my husband and I are thinking about for when we retire. One of our greatest memories is getting the small ferry to visit Cape Wrath - it was an amazing experience. More so as you really have to plan to get there.
Dee Hartley, Lancashire
My experience of custom in Scotland has been much more negative than positive. I have only been in Florida for a year having come from Scotland but the standards expected and delivered here are of a different class. The staff in the hotels make you feel comfortable. Some of the Scottish hoteliers I have come accross have been the most obnoxious I have ever encountered. Shopping here is much less stressful. You are met with a "have a nice day" which always comes accross as being genuine. In Glasgow you sometimes feel you have committed a crime when you go to the cashier. Even going for a snack in a Scottish tea room can be depressing. We had one occassion where we actually wrote to the manageress of an establishment in Callander because of the attitude of the middle aged woman who displayed downright hostility when serving us a coffee and a meringue. Give me Florida anyday.
I have just returned from the Scottish Higlands and I can truly say it is one of the most beautiful places on earth, even at this time of the year. The rural areas should remain undeveloped to retain their natural charm and beauty.
Steven Kahn, England
I travel to Scotland every couple of years and generally stay two or more weeks at a time. I have found Scotland to be the most beautiful place on earth. The tourist industry is slowly improving and it really shows in the borders. My concern is the purity, solitude, and beauty of the Highlands and Islands. If you can maintain that and have healthier local economies from tourism then it's a job well-done.
David N. VanMeter, USA
I have travelled on my own extensively in Scotland on a number of different lengthy trips in all areas of the country, so am quite up on what is and what isn't appealing. It is interesting that you don't get input from travellers/tourists as part of your planning. They could give you the best feedback. One thing needed is consistency in bed and breakfast and guest house ratings. A four star one place is equivalent to a two star other places. More rigid inspection is needed. More car rental (not to mention more automatics for the overseas visitor) depots and turn in places would be helpful. Less expensive places to eat with food that is up to date (are needed. And pleaase more non-smoking establishments, especially pubs and eating spots. I live in western Canada and a lot of people are interested in Scotland but I find they don't have much information. Good rail links especially to smaller places are really needed. There needs to be something for the 50+ ordinary tourist/traveller. Some of the museums I wanted to visit were only open certain days or not till late in the day. Earlier opening hours and more days would bring more visitors, esp. in areas outside the large cities. Most of the Scottish people I met in my several extended trips were pleasant and helpful. A few not so.
Barbara Ballard, Canada
I am a Scot and feel that it has a lot to offer. However, I do sometimes feel that not enough effort is made to offer a decent service.Loch Lomond is famous the world over and yet the catering facilities leave a lot to be desired and again Luss is even worse. All the way north there is room for improvement. People have money to spend but they want decent food and accommodation and I feel somtimes the people offering these services make the minimum effort to cater for tourists. They are probably the first to complain when they have a bad year. It's a wonderful country but there is a lot of competition out there and they need to look to their laurels.
Helen Ferguson, UK
I have been out of Scotland now for about five years. The one thing I notice when I go back is that the service is nowhere near as good as anywhere else. The country itself is great and the people are definately friendlier than most other places but the service lets it down. If service is good, you can charge anything you want - if it is bad, no matter how nice the view or friendly the staff, people will complain and will remember those shortcomings.
Craig Douglas, Hong Kong
It was a great holiday but the rail service to and from Glasgow going north was jammed packed on a Saturday. We found the people to be very friendly and helpful to all of our needs.