Stirling - at the heart of Scotland's tourism sector

Nationally, tourism makes a significant contribution to Scotland’s economic prosperity employing over 200,000 people and generating over £5.2 billion annually and, locally, the tourism sector plays an important role in both the current economy of Stirling and in our strategic ambitions for the future.
Stirling offers a tourism mix that is hard to rival anywhere else in the world. Our world class historic attractions such as Stirling Castle, The National Wallace Monument and the new £9m Battle of Bannockburn Centre not only attract visitors from all over the world but help create one of the most stunning cityscapes in Europe.
A vibrant city centre provides a superb shopping experience whilst the area's world class produce is sold in a diverse range of restaurants.
The city itself is surrounded by a beautiful natural environment including Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park which provides a huge adventure playground for all outdoor pursuits.
With such a mix the opportunities for tourism businesses are obvious whether that is accommodation, food and drink or sport and leisure.

Stirling's Tourism in Numbers

  4 million visitors to Stirling in 2014
  £463m the total economic impact of tourism in Stirling during 2014
  9,201 the number of jobs directly supported by Stirling’s tourism industry
  44% the proportion of visitors to Stirling that are from overseas, which is more than double the figure for Scotland as a whole
  £68.88m the impact of tourism on Stirling’s Food and Drink industry
  54% the percentage of visitors who stay for at least one night
  £83m visitor spend in Stirling’s local authority area in 2014 (5th highest spend out of the 32 local authority areas in Scotland)
  £56 average daily expenditure for overnight overseas visitors
  £55 average daily expenditure for overnight domestic visitors
  76% the average occupancy rate of Stirling’s hotels

Visitor Attractions

An undoubted strength of the Stirling area is its visitor attractions. Scotland’s world famous attributes of scenery, history, innovation and entertainment are all brought to a focus here for visitors of all ages to enjoy. Indeed, 76% of all visitors to Stirling cite our visitor attractions as the initial driver of their visit.

Within this offer, Stirling’s historic attractions are particularly important. Stirling has been at the heart of Scotland’s most important events throughout its history. Here, you will find the sites of Scotland’s two most famous battles, Stirling Bridge and Bannockburn. In 2014, the latter had a state of the art £9m visitor centre opened to commemorate the 700th anniversary of the battle.

Stirling Castle and the National Wallace Monument face each other across the city to deliver one of Europe’s most striking and dramatic landscapes. Both attractions are in Scotland’s top 15 paid for attractions and attract over 500,000 visitors to the area between them each year. In 2011 the castle enjoyed a £12m restoration of the Royal Palace, helping to facilitate a world class programme of living history and animation within one of Scotland’s most iconic attractions.

Cambuskenneth Abbey, Stirling’s Old Town Jail,Blair Drummond Safari Park (Scotland’s only African safari park), The Falkirk Wheel and The Helix are further important and popular attractions which all help to pull significant visitor numbers to Stirling from all over the world.

Combine these attractions with the fact that we have the stunning Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park on our doorstep and it is easy to see just how world class Stirling’s offering is.

Top five visitor attractions by number in the wider Stirling area:

 Lomond Shores  1,172,832
 Helix  800,000
 Falkirk Wheel  514,170
 Stirling Castle  440,819
 Queen Elizabeth Forest Park  278,109


Situated in Scotland’s heart, Stirling has excellent transport links providing a strategic location from which to access Scotland’s world class assets and to access regional, national and international markets.

Critical to a successful tourism economy, and to the businesses within it, is global connectivity and Stirling’s connectivity is evidenced by the fact that 54% of all visitors to the area are from overseas.

The city’s global accessibility is enhanced by its proximity to both Glasgow and Edinburgh international airports which are both accessible in 30 mins by road.  These airports are amongst the busiest in the UK and handle more than 18 million passengers between them every year, with routes to and from over 140 destinations worldwide.

Stirling’s key position on Scotland’s trunk road network also provides access to more than half of the Scottish population within an hour’s drive, and over 80% within 2 hours giving a huge catchment of day trip visitors. In addition to this superb road access, Stirling is a key interchange on Scotland’s rail network and allows quick and efficient rail travel across Scotland and beyond, including a direct rail link to London.

Talent and Workforce

Local Provision
Tourism is a sector in which having access to a workforce with a diverse range of skills and abilities is critical. Stirling provides a location from which businesses in this sector can enjoy a ready supply of quality staff across all aspects of tourism and hospitality provision.

Stirling’s current population is 91,260, a figure projected to grow by almost 17% over the next 20 years. Stirling’s central position also places nearly 3 million people within an hour’s drive of the city which ensures businesses in Stirling benefit from access to a huge potential workforce providing all the skills, diversity and flexibility that they could possibly need.
The percentage of Stirling’s residents with qualifications at SVQ level 3 or above is above the national average. In addition over one third of Stirling’s working age residents have HND/degree level qualifications.

The University of Stirling has 8,239 undergraduate and 3,272 postgraduate students currently enrolled and the employment rate, within 6 months of graduation, is consistently well over the national average.

In addition to the university the main campus of Forth Valley College is located in the city. The college has 20,000 students currently enrolled across all of its learning programmes.
Playing host to the University of Stirling and Fourth Valley College (FVC) provides a whole host of highly skilled labour. The large student population here provides an important source of part time labour for tourism and hospitality businesses in the Stirling area, as well as a good supply of graduate employees.

Forth Valley College

A state-of-the-art £29M campus has recently been constructed for Forth Valley College and is now operational. The college has a particularly strong tourism and hospitality offering and offers qualifications in; Food and Beverage Service Supervision, Hospitality Management, Professional Cookery, Hospitality, Travel & Tourism and Events Co-ordination.

In addition, the college is well engaged with local industry and can offer tailored courses to suit your business needs.

University of Stirling
The University of Stirling's internationally respected management school produces a regular supply of high calibre graduates and postgraduates in management and management specialisms, and was ranked within the Top 25 in the UK for Business and Management.

Wider Talent Pool

It is not just the high quality local workforce that is available to businesses in Stirling however. Stirling’s unrivalled location at the heart of Scotland places a vast potential workforce within easy commuting distance including a huge pool of graduates in tourism and hospitality related disciplines.

Courses at either Degree or Masters level in Hospitality, International Hospitality and Tourism Management, International and Business Hospitality Management, Tourism Enterprise, Tourism and Hospitality, Tourism Marketing and Tourism Management are all taught within a 45 minute drive of the city.

Also found just a short drive away is the Moffat Centre for Travel and Tourism Development. Based at Glasgow Caledonian University, The Moffat Centre is the UK's largest university based consultancy and research centre for tourism and travel market research and business development.

The centre provides realistic, down-to-earth, practical advice and recommendations that are of immediate use to businesses within the tourism industry.

In extensive surveys of tourism employers taken over the last few years 33% of tourism employers experiencing skills gaps said that their staff lacked “strategic management” skills whilst 64% highlighted issues with a lack of customer service skills. From the summary of available skills and  workforce given above it should be clear that employers in the industry basing themselves in Stirling need not worry about these issues.

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7th in the UK
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