Growing numbers of hotels, bars and restaurants are fuelling a boom in the number of people working in Scottish tourism - which has soared by 11 per cent in the space of just 12 months.
Scotland is outperforming the rest of the UK, which recorded a four per cent increase, according to a new research paper published by national tourism agency VisitScotland.
A record 217,000 are now employed in the sector in Scotland - 83 per cent of whom are working in hospitality, which is responsible for the creation of 21,000 new jobs.
The number of people working behind bars has gone up 27 per cent, while restaurant and hotel jobs are up seven and 14 per cent respectively.
Edinburgh is responsible for the most number of employees working in the industry - 34,600 - although tourism jobs make up 17 per cent of total employment in Argyll & Bute, more than any other part of the country.
Other areas reliant on tourism include Perth & Kinross, East Lothian and South Ayrshire.
Dundee has seen a 20 per cent increase in tourism jobs, to 6000, while 8700 tourism jobs now 15,700 tourism jobs now exist in the Highlands - up 11 per cent in the space of a year.
The Visit Scotland study, Tourism Employment in Scotland, states: “The largest proportion of employment comes from restaurant related activities, making up approximately 40 per cent of the total tourism sector.
“The primary drivers of growth within the Scottish tourism sector in 2015 were bars/pubs/clubs, employing an additional 7,900 on the previous year.”
Scottish tourism secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “Our tourism industry is going from strength to strength and these figures serve to highlight the vital role that tourism plays in Scotland’s economy.
They also show how important the industry is to our rural and coastal economies.
“Our food and drink sectors continue to play an important role in attracting our visitors and creating employment opportunities.
“Scotland is famed for its warm welcome, incredible scenery and top class attractions. This was illustrated recently when Scotland was ranked second in the Rough Guides list of the best countries in the world to visit in 2017.”
Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of national tourism agency VisitScotland, said: “Tourism is more than a holiday experience. It creates jobs and sustains communities in every corner of Scotland all year round and is at the heart of the Scottish economy.
“These fantastic new figures show that, from hotel owners to waiting staff, tourism really is the driving force for providing the jobs of today and tomorrow. They also demonstrate the industry’s commitment to the 2020 strategy – which aims to generate economic growth through tourism.”