Page last updated at 07:33 GMT, Friday, 24 July 2009 08:33 UK

Tourist numbers fall by a million

Isle of Mull
Tourism numbers were down by 8% last year

The number of tourists visiting Scotland last year dropped by more than a million, new figures show.

Spending was also down, with a big drop in business tourism, according to the figures for 2008, compiled by tourist body VisitScotland.

The number of tourists visiting Scotland dropped by 8%, with 14.6 million trips taken last year.

Spending by tourists was down £156m, a fall of 4%. A drop in business tourism accounted for £113m of that fall.

Business spending was down 14%.

The Scottish Government said that tourism was not immune from the downturn and Scotland was performing better than the rest of the UK.

A spokesperson said: "VisitScotland is still actively marketing Scotland as a top destination for business once the downturn begins to ease.

"In the meantime, there has been an increase in visitors from Europe because of favourable exchange rates and more focused marketing."

The drop in tourism numbers is not unexpected.

The figures cover the period of a sharp slowdown in economic growth with the UK entering recession in the middle of last year.

A recent survey showed a return of optimism in the tourism industry during the second quarter of this year.

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