Searches for “flights to Scotland” surged by 159% in recent months. The unlikely source? Season 2 of the television series The Traitors.
Scotland, known for its breathtaking landscapes and historic castles, is experiencing an unexpected tourism boom. Google search data analysis by travel information site Places To Travel reveals a fascinating trend: Whenever a new season of The Traitors premieres, there is a substantial increase in interest in traveling to Scotland.
The recent surge in searches for flights coincides perfectly with the show's broadcast schedule, with the latest spike occurring after the first episode of season 2 aired on January 12, 2024.
The Traitors is a psychological adventure competition set in the Scottish Highlands' Ardross Castle. It features 22 strangers working as a team to complete challenges and missions for a cash prize of up to £120,000 (approximately $152,000). However, three secret traitors aim to sabotage their efforts and eliminate contestants. Loyalists must detect and expose the traitors to win or face losing it all.
A spokesperson from Places To Travel commented, “You may think it's a coincidence, but Google data clearly shows a bump in searches for flights during the same time as The Traitors returning to our screens. It also happened last year when the first season aired in January 2023.”
Searches for “Ardross Castle” and “The Traitors” also spiked simultaneously, the former skyrocketing by over 4,500% compared to average searches over the last five years, reaching all-time highs around the premiere times of seasons one and two.
Located near Inverness, searches for Ardross Castle overtook Scotland's most popular castles by visitor numbers, including Edinburgh, Stirling, Urquhart, and even the British Royal Family residence, Balmoral Castle.
Disappointing to fans of the show traveling to Scotland, individual visits to the castle are not allowed. The event venue only accommodates private parties and corporate gatherings.
The success of The Traitors in inspiring travel to Scotland underscores the increasing influence of TV tourism. Viewers are increasingly motivated to visit the filming locations of their favorite shows, and Scotland's captivating landscapes and historic sites make it an ideal destination.
This trend isn't unique to The Traitors. Over the past decade, several other TV shows and movies have significantly driven interest in Scottish tourism. From the mystical landscapes featured in Outlander to the enchanting Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from the Harry Potter series, Scotland has served as a backdrop for numerous beloved productions, leaving travelers eager to explore the real-life settings of their favorite stories.
These recent cinematic and television experiences have contributed to Scotland's growing popularity as a travel destination, showcasing its multifaceted charm to a global audience.
Plan a Visit to Scotland
Travelers planning a trip to Scotland inspired by a favorite movie or TV show can plan a varied itinerary around the many great places and activities unique to the country.
1. Explore Historic Castles
Beyond the allure of Ardross Castle, Scotland boasts a wealth of historic treasures. Edinburgh Castle, immortalized in Outlander, houses the Scottish Crown Jewels. Stirling Castle, celebrated in Braveheart, showcases Renaissance opulence. Eilean Donan, a Highlander star, offers panoramic vistas. Explore Dunnottar, steeped in Crown Jewels lore, and Linlithgow Palace, a notable Outlander site. These castles, steeped in history and screen fame, beckon visitors.
2. Discover the Highlands
Scotland's Highlands are renowned for their stunning landscapes. The lochs, mountains, and glens offer an enchanting escape. Travelers can embark on scenic road trips to immerse themselves in the region's unparalleled natural beauty.
3. Sample Scotch Whiskey
Scotland's reputation for whiskey is unparalleled. A visit to a distillery is essential, offering a deep dive into the whiskey-making process and the opportunity to savor some of the world's finest Scotch whiskeys, each brimming with history, tradition, and exceptional flavors.
4. Enjoy Traditional Scottish Cuisine
Indulge in Scotland's culinary heritage by trying dishes like haggis, neeps, tatties, and Scotch pies at local pubs and restaurants. These traditional foods offer a taste of Scotland's rich and flavorful cuisine, immersing tourists in its edible traditions.
5. Visit Loch Ness
Travelers can venture to Loch Ness, famous for its mythical resident, the Loch Ness Monster. Choose between embarking on a boat tour or hiking along picturesque shores to uncover the mysteries that have shrouded this iconic Scottish landmark for generations.
6. Attend Highland Games
Visitors lucky enough to coincide with Highland Games events can immerse themselves in traditional Scottish sports, music, and dance competitions. These spirited gatherings provide an authentic window into Scotland's rich cultural heritage, celebrating athleticism, artistry, and community spirit.
7. Interact With Highland Cows
Animal enthusiasts can explore Highland cow farms or sanctuaries, getting up close and personal with these iconic creatures that have grown in popularity. Visitors can interact with these gentle giants, forging a memorable bond with Scotland's beloved bovine residents.
The Power of Film & TV Tourism
Film and TV tourism is on the rise as viewers increasingly seek out the filming locations of their favorite shows. It seems to be driven by a desire to immerse themselves in the show's filming location, or it could just be that the program has inspired people to travel somewhere they’ve never considered.
The filming locations are chosen deliberately without being overtly marketed, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the on-screen world without feeling subjected to a sales pitch.
As The Traitors continues to enthrall audiences, Scotland's allure as a travel destination remains strong. Whether drawn by the magic of TV, a fascination with locations from favorite movies, or the desire to explore Scotland's rich heritage and natural wonders, the country promises an unforgettable journey.