SCOTLAND has been voted the number one tourist destination for 2013 by a top American news channel.

CNN has put the country at the top of its list of world travel destinations ahead of Rabat in Morocco, Kosice in Slovakia, Gettysburg in the USA and Amsterdam.

The decision to give Scotland the number one spot was made after checking travel sites and experts to identify up-and-coming destinations based on bargains, large-scale events, added airline routes and major hotel openings.

The CNN website says: "Scotland has seen fit to dub 2013 the Year of Natural Scotland and what better time?

"Anyone who saw the 2012 James Bond thriller Skyfall walked away wishing they too could race through Scotland's dramatic countryside."

VisitScotland chairman Mike Cantlay said of the CNN poll: "This is a tremendous accolade for Scotland.

"Undoubtedly the global success of Brave and the awe-inspiring images of Scotland in Skyfall will have whetted the appetite of many potential visitors.

"Despite the tough economic environment, momentum is building ahead of 2014. Glasgow is set to be at the forefront of activity with the eyes of the world on the city during the Commonwealth Games.

"In addition to this we will also welcome the Ryder Cup and Scotland's second Homecoming.

"Endorsements such as this really help to secure Scotland's leading position on the global tourism map."