The number of people working in Scottish tourism has gone up by 11 per cent, according to newly analysed employment data.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and published today on visitscotland.org show that, between 2014 and 2015, the number of people employed in the sector grew to 217,000.

The 11 per cent increase in Scotland is above the four per cent rise in Great Britain as a whole.

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The 217,000 members of the Scottish tourism industry represent nine per cent of the country’s total employment and is the highest tourism level since Business Register and Employment Survey (BRES) records began in 2009.

Edinburgh and Glasgow are the two biggest tourism employers, with 34,600 (11 per cent of employment total) and 30,800 (eigh per cent) respectively.

Proportionally, however, Argyll and Bute is the region where tourism has the biggest impact on employment. The 6,500 tourism workers represent nearly a fifth (17 per cent) of total employment in the region.

The 15,700 tourism workers in the Highlands makes up 14 per cent of the region’s total, the same percentage as Perth and Kinross, which employs 8,700 people in the industry.

West Dunbartonshire, which boasts the likes of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park and Titan Crane, saw a massive 41 per cent jump to 3,100 employees, while Eilean Siar and Dundee experienced increases of 22 per cent (to 1,100) and 20 per cent (to 6,000) respectively.

Between 2014 and 2015, there was a 7 per cent increase (to 89,000) in the number of people working in Scotland’s restaurants. At 41 per cent, this makes up the biggest sector of the tourism industry.

Just over 53,000 work in hotels and other accommodation (up 14 per cent to now comprise almost a quarter of the total), while 37,200 are involved in “beverage serving activities” – a sector which saw a 27 per cent increase on 2014 figures and which now comprises 17 per cent of the total.

Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “Our tourism industry is going from strength to strength and these figures serve to highlight the vital role that tourism plays in Scotland’s economy. They also show how important the industry is to our rural and coastal economies. Our food and drink sectors continue to play an important role in attracting our visitors and creating employment opportunities.

“Scotland is famed for its warm welcome, incredible scenery and top class attractions. This was illustrated recently when Scotland was ranked second in the Rough Guides list of the best countries in the world to visit in 2017.”

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said: “Tourism is more than a holiday experience. It creates jobs and sustains communities in every corner of Scotland all year round and is at the heart of the Scottish economy. These fantastic new figures show that, from hotel owners to waiting staff, tourism really is the driving force for providing the jobs of today and tomorrow. They also demonstrate the industry’s commitment to the 2020 strategy – which aims to generate economic growth through tourism.”