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The number of cruise passengers arriving in Scotland this year is set to top over 500,000 for the first time.
The projection follows a record-breaking season in 2015 when Scottish ports attracted 460,546 visitors as the number of ship calls rose by 9.6% to 501.
This represented a 14.8% increase in passengers over 2014, generating an estimated £54.6 million for the Scottish economy through passenger spend alone, up by around £5.5 million year-on-year.
Industry marketing body Cruise Scotland projects 525,000 passengers in 2016 when 644 vessels are expected. The trend towards larger ships is also helping boost numbers.
Viking Ocean Cruises will visit Scotland for the first time in 2016, with Viking Sea and Viking Star due to call at Kirkwall, Lerwick and Rosyth.
The first round-Britain voyage by Disney Cruise Line will see multiple calls by Disney Magic, including Greenock, Kirkwall and Invergordon.
Cruise Scotland chairman, Victor Sandison, said: “The continuing growth shows the increasing popularity of Scotland as a destination in a highly-competitive global market.
“This year’s estimated passenger count of over 525,000 will take us around halfway to the annual target of 1.1 million by 2029 – a figure identified in a study carried out in 2010 when there were just over 268,000 cruise visitors.
“Breaking half-a-million passengers will be a great achievement for all involved in marketing, port services and providing a great welcome, from harbours and shops to visitor attractions.
“However, it is vital that we continue to promote Scotland’s many attractions and keep delivering a first-class product to maximise future opportunities.”
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