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Tourist numbers up by 6.1%

Six venues attract million visitors as tourism hits new record

kelpiesScotland has hit a new record of visitor attractions luring more than a million visitors. Six venues beat the million mark last year as the country benefited from a year of sporting and cultural events.

Tourist numbers hit a new record of 27,141,519, up 6.1% on 2013 as the unprecedented range of events including the Commonwealth Games, Ryder Cup and MTV Awards proved a worldwide hit.

Data from the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions showed the number of Scottish sites attracting over 1 million visits doubled to six.

For the fourth year, the National Museum of Scotland (free entry) was the most visited attraction with 1,639,509 visits recorded. Edinburgh Castle was once again the most visited paid for attraction with 1,480,676 visits.

Sectors which fared particularly well include museums & galleries, gardens and boat trip/ marine.

Visits to the Top 20 sites rose by 9%, with these sites accounting for 54% of all visits to Scottish attractions. Edinburgh continues to dominate the marketplace, with 10 of the top 20 attractions located in the city.

Fergus Ewing, Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism said: “2015 is the Year of Food and Drink and I am confident we will continue to build on the momentum created in 2014 and on the long term benefits these events bring, building a strong, high quality experience that visitors will remember and keep them returning to Scotland for many years to come.”

Councillor Gordon Matheson, leader of Glasgow City Council and chair of Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, said: “Glasgow sites also fared well, recording an overall increase in visitor numbers of 492,249 (12%). Anecdotal evidence from visitor attractions in the city suggests that the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games contributed significantly to the rise. During July and August, which coincided with the Games, visitor numbers to Glasgow sites increased by 283,392 (34%). It is likely that this increase in visitors to the city impacted positively on other attractions across Scotland and contributed to the overall national increase.”

Major new attractions in Falkirk, including The Kelpies Tour (pictured), which generated over 43,000 visitors in 2014, and Helix Park, which until September 2014 attracted 680,000 visitors, appear to have benefited tourism to the town and provided a spin-off for existing attractions such as the Falkirk Wheel, which saw visitor numbers increase by 26%.

David O’Neill, Chair of ASVA said: “It is clear that 2014 was a bumper year for the visitor attractions sector in Scotland as we reaped the benefits from Homecoming 2014 and major events including The Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup. The challenge is to build on this momentum as we move forward into 2015 and beyond.”

Mike Cantlay, VisitScotland Chairman, said: “2014 was an exceptional year for Scottish tourism, it was the year we welcomed the world. These figures show that as well as attending major events like the Commonwealth Games, the Ryder Cup and the Year of Homecoming, visitors were also discovering and exploring some of our most cherished cultural and historical attractions.

“It is fantastic to see attractions like the Scottish National Gallery and the Riverside Museum enjoying such significant increases in visitors, and to have doubled the number of attractions welcoming over 1million people is truly incredible.

“Scotland’s tourism offering is world class, with a diverse range of things to see and do from stand up paddle boarding to stand-up comedy; inspirational art and design to magnificent architecture, landscapes and heritage. In 2015, we will build on the energy and excitement of last year, using strengths, such as our food and drink and quality visitor experiences, to take Scotland to the world and enhance our reputation as a must visit, must return destination.”

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