War-time Germans flock to Scotland in ferry loads

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DON’T mention the war but tens of thousands of elderly Germans are mounting an invasion of Scotland.

The pensioners sail into Newcastle but most bypass England and head across the border for their holiday.

According to a ferry firm, German coach operators carried 17,000 tourists from Amsterdam to Newcastle last year, up from 12,500 in 2009.

A further 35,000 German and Dutch visitors booked independent trips to Scotland using their own cars, say DFD Seaways.

The firm says 60% of the passengers shun England and head straight to Scotland for their break.

And the largest growth area is in the over-65s market, according to the company.

Areas like Fife, the Lothians and the Borders have grown in popularity over the past few years, with the benefits spreading across the country to Loch Lomond and the Highlands – with a particular interest in whisky tours.

And a German visitor staying for an average 10 days is believed to spend around £1,300, which the ferry company says is a “major boost” to Scotland’s economy.

John Crummie, passenger director for DFDS Seaways, said: “Historically, Scotland has enjoyed an ‘auld alliance’ with France but these figures show Scotland is forging a new alliance with Germany and the Netherlands.”

He added: “From our passengers’ feedback, we hear that Scots help make trips for our Dutch and German passengers really special.

“Scots are always friendly and willing to help tourists get the best out of any trip to Scotland.”

Mr Crummie said one of the reasons Germans liked the route was the good motorway connections to the east and west of Scotland.

He added: “We are always looking for new ways in which to promote Scotland to our passengers.We have worked very closely with VisitScotland to promote Scotland as a holiday destination for several years now.”

Mr Crummie said Scots were also enjoying the benefits of the service with many travelling to Newcastle as a way of getting to the continent.

In all, more than half a million travelers used the route last year, a new record.

Aoife Desmond, Visit Scotland’s international marketing manager for Europe, said:  “Tourism is Scotland’s most important industry, bringing £11 billion into the economy and supporting over 270,000 jobs. Good transport links are crucial for growth.

“Last year’s campaign generated £97 million for Scotland, so our joint efforts to encourage Dutch and German visitors to Scotland are really paying off.”

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