Scottish tourism leaders have issued a stark warning that the lucrative industry is facing its toughest period since the start of the economic downturn.

Dwindling consumer spending, the soaring cost of travelling to the UK from overseas and prolonged bad weather is said to be badly hampering businesses and operators.

Visitscotland chiefs said high air passenger duty charges were deterring many overseas visitors while they had recently asked the banking sector to be more supportive of the tourism industry.