More than 700,000 American tourists visit Scotland over the last year

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The number of American tourists visiting Scotland has soared over the last year.

Official figures show there were more than 707,000 visits from North America in the year to the end of June, up 38% on the previous 12-months.

Visitors from North America also spent more, with figures showing a 48% rise over the period, from £495 million to £732 million.

Across all international markets visits to Scotland were up 11% and spending increased by 19% to more than £2 billion.

Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: "The continued rise in overseas tourists is encouraging. They are spending more too, particularly those coming from North America.

"It is great news for our economy. Scotland offers an memorable visitor experience for people that choose our country as their holiday destination."

VisitScotland chief executive Malcolm Roughead said: "It is magnificent to see such spectacular growth from international markets in what has been a busy year for tourism in Scotland.

"Across the board from accommodation provider to CalMac Ferries to Edinburgh and Glasgow airports, we have heard from many who have had a record-breaking year.

"Such major growth from our international markets can be attributed to increased, targeted marketing activity in key North American and European countries, favourable exchange rates, increased capacity on flights and the Outlander effect which has taken the country by storm since the release of the popular TV series.

"Of course with great numbers comes great responsibility, and it is imperative the country's tourism industry remains sustainable.

"This includes looking at how we can share the tourism windfall with lesser known parts of Scotland and outside of peak season, alongside ensuring that infrastructure meets current and future demand."