The Travel Trends 2017 data from the Office for National Statistics showed the number of international visitors travelling to Glasgow rose by nearly a fifth (19 per cent) to 787,000, while expenditure increased by more than a third (36 per cent) to £319 million.
Glasgow’s growth outperformed the Scottish average – at a national level visits were up 17 per cent to 3.2 million while spend rose 23 per cent to £2.3 billion.
Glasgow also welcomed a record 500 conferences, worth £123 million to the city, of which 64 were international congresses and conventions; reinforcing the city’s credentials as a global leader for business tourism.
Councillor David McDonald, Glasgow Life chair and Glasgow City Council deputy leader, said: “Attracting more international visitors through creative marketing and inspirational content is at the heart of Glasgow’s tourism plan.
“Our international strategy stems from digital innovation and solid partnerships; locally, nationally and with industry. Our focus is on showcasing Glasgow as an outstanding global city – one that’s welcoming, vibrant and culturally rich with an unrivalled visitor experience and world-class customer service.
“We know the global tourism market is fiercely competitive, but there’s no shortage of compelling reasons to visit Glasgow and that’s reflected in these record figures, which is a real boost to our reputation and tourism economy.
“As we prepare to welcome thousands of tourists from across Europe over the next two weeks to the first ever European Championships, our priority now is to ensure that Glasgow messaging remains front of mind this year and beyond and that we continue to capitalise on the interest in the city that we know exists globally at present.”
Danny Cusick, Scottish Enterprise tourism director, said: “This is a tremendous result by Glasgow tourism businesses and is testament to the excellent progress being made on Glasgow’s Tourism and Visitor Plan.
“Tourism is vital to Scotland’s economy, generating direct expenditure from overnight visitors and providing jobs to hundreds of thousands of people across the country, with Glasgow playing a hugely important role in this as a major international tourism gateway for Scotland.
“We look forward to working with our partners to build on this success and help drive Scotland and Glasgow’s tourism industry to achieve even more.”
Stuart Patrick, Glasgow Chamber of Commerce chief executive, said: “Growing Glasgow’s tourism was always an important goal of delivering the Commonwealth Games, and the aim of the tourism plan is clear – an extra one million visitors to the city each year, boosting the economy and bringing jobs.
“This latest report by the ONS shows that the signs for it happening are positive. We have made a good start, but there is more to do, so let’s build the airport rail link and attract more direct flights to Glasgow Airport, protect our UK retail position by sorting out the redevelopment of Buchanan Galleries and continue to improve the tourist appeal of our city centre with a priority being the resurrection of Sauchiehall Street.”