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Our report paints a picture of the growing popularity of staycations in Scotland, reviewing everything from the trending holiday hotspots and activities, to how holiday let owners across the country can make the most of their investment.

What’s in this report?

Welcome to the Sykes Scotland Staycation Index for 2021

At Sykes Holiday Cottages, we’re able to paint a clear picture of the UK’s staycation habits.

Here we bring you our insight into the growing trend of holidaying in Scotland.

In our inaugural Scottish Staycation Index, we wanted to lift the lid on the tourism boom that Scotland is witnessing in recent months.

After an undoubtedly difficult year, the Scotland staycation market came back fighting – and there’s no sign of demand slowing anytime soon.

As a proud Scot myself, it’s easy to see why Scotland is fast becoming a firm favourite amongst holidaymakers. With stretches of deserted beaches, panoramic mountain views and expanses of national parks – there are plenty of reasons to opt for a staycation in Scotland.

According to our research, almost a third (31%) of British adults will holiday in Scotland this year – with three quarters (76%) of Scots planning to holiday in their own country during 2021.

And although this Scottish staycation boom has undoubtedly been fuelled by international travel restrictions this year, our research suggests that even beyond the pandemic Scotland will remain a first-choice travel destination for many.

In this report, we reveal the travel trends driving a surge in demand for staycations in Scotland – including this year’s most popular hotspots, preferred types of trip, and the most soughtafter holiday home features.

Separately, we also explore how a surge in staycations has prompted second homeowners in Scotland to consider letting their property as a new investment opportunity – jumping at the chance to generate an additional income.

With 30 years’ experience in holiday letting, we’re in a unique position to provide fresh insight into the staycation sector in Scotland in 2021 – as well as providing predictions of what’s to come.

– Graham Donoghue, CEO, Sykes Holiday Cottages

The Scotland staycation market

Shining a spotlight on Scotland’s staycation market and the rising demand in 2021 and beyond.

We reveal how the past year affected holiday let bookings in Scotland, motivations for travel, and the estimated impact on Scotlands’ economy in 2021.

Our research includes the key findings from our booking data, as well as insights from consumer research we conducted with British respondents.

  1. The Highlands
  2. Dumfries and Galloway
  3. Scottish Borders
  4. Aberdeenshire
  5. Argyll and Bute
  6. Perth and Kinross
  7. Moray
  8. Fife
  9. South Ayrshire
  10. Angus

The 10 most popular locations in 2021 (from 2019)

  1. Southerness
  2. Kirkcudbright
  3. Grantown-On-Spey
  4. Tomintoul
  5. Whithorn
  6. Gatehouse of Fleet
  7. Portknockie
  8. Isle of Whithorn
  9. Newtonmore
  10. Moffat

Interesting Facts

  • The Highlands is a particularly popular choice amongst Scots, with more than two in five (41%) planning to travel there this year
  • Southerness, Palnackle and Tomintoul are the three most popular destinations for pet-friendly holidays in Scotland
  • East Lothian, South Ayrshire and Stirling have seen the biggest Increases in bookings during the 2021 winter period compared to 2019

What do people want from a holiday in Scotland and how has the pandemic impacted this?

At Sykes, we’ve observed a number of changes in how Brits are holidaying in recent months – most notably when it comes to their priorities for accommodation.

In the absence of jetting off abroad, more people are opting for staycations that provide easy access to walking routes or things to see and do. And our larger Scottish properties have also seen greater demand as families and friends reunite post lockdown.

The top five types of staycation accommodation in Scotland, according to UK respondents

  1. Cottage-style holiday home
  2. Lake & mountain retreat
  3. Countryside B&B
  4. City break
  5. Beachfront holiday home

Most popular lifestyle trends that have led to more people to consider staycations in Scotland

  • Walking and exploring the outdoors – three in 10 (29%)
  • Spending more time with family – almost a quarter (23%)
  • Cooking – one in five (21%)
  • Investing more in self-care and wellbeing – almost one in five (18%)
  • Cycling – one in six (16%)

The holiday let owners in Scotland – where and what to invest in?

We explore the ingredients for a successful holiday let.

It has undoubtedly been a hard year for holiday let owners, but the silver lining is that they will benefit from increased staycation demand this summer. Sykes has reported a significant uplift in owner enquiries in Scotland this year, with second homeowners clearly recognising the revenue opportunity that lies ahead. With an average income of £16,000 a year for a holiday let in Scotland, the rewards are substantial – and this year is set to be more fruitful than ever.

  • The average income of a holiday let owner in Scotland is £16,000
  • Sykes has seen a 65% year-on-year increase in new property enquiries
  • A quarter (24%) of Scots say the pandemic has made them more likely to consider holiday lettings as a means to providing extra income moving forward
  • More than a third (34%) of Scots say they would pick the Highlands as their first-choice location if they were to buy a second home

Top 5 earning regions

  1. Highlands & Islands
    2-bed: £15,300
    3-bed: 18,700
  2. Perth & Kinross
    2-bed: £14,000
    3-bed: £16,300
  3. Aberdeenshire
    2-bed: £12,500
    3-bed: £21,600
  4. Argyll and Bute
    2-bed: £12,400
    3-bed: £16,600
  5. Angus
    2-bed: £12,100
    3-bed: £12,300

What we’ve found – our conclusion

A stronger staycation market in Scotland is here to stay

The travel industry has changed shape over the past 18 months, but Scotland’s staycation sector has emerged stronger than ever in 2021.

Staycations continue to provide welcome respite for many holidaymakers looking to escape this year, and the appetite for Scotland as a first-choice travel destination has reached new highs.

With stretches of dramatic coastlines, world-renowned mountain peaks and freshwater lochs, it’s easy to see why Scotland is a firm favourite for UK holidaymakers this year.

And encouragingly, our data shows the appetite for staycations in Scotland is expected to grow even beyond the pandemic, with bookings for 2022 already rolling in.

Holiday letting has become an increasingly attractive investment opportunity to Scots as a result of this growing demand – with a quarter saying they’re now more likely to consider it as a means to providing extra income.

Our data also shows a significant number have already jumped at the opportunity to invest in holiday lets over the past year, with the difference in return of investment potential compared to buy-to-lets likely to be a big driver of this decision.

A big thank you to all our hard-working property owners, guests, and the full Sykes Holiday Cottages family who have worked incredibly hard over the past year. After another successful summer in Scotland, we look forward to a busy autumn and winter ahead.

– Graham Donoghue, CEO, Sykes Holiday Cottages


Bookings data for the year ahead was used to provide a snapshot of the staycation market, while comparisons with full-year data from 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2021 were used to identify market trends.

Supporting consumer research of 2,000 UK adults and 1,000 Scottish adults was carried out by Censuswide in July 2021.

ROI analysis based on i) Sykes’ internal data showing annual rental earnings for 2019 ii) Scottish government private sector rent statistics and iii) average house price data from


For further information on the report findings, methodology or press enquiries then please contact

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