Scottish tourist attractions had one of their best years on record, outperforming the rate of increase in the rest of the UK, according to the latest data.
A 15.6% increase in visitors to sites registered by the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) was double the 7.2% rise across the UK.
The most visited attraction in Scotland and 15th most visited in the UK was the National Museum of Scotland which opened 10 galleries in 2016 (receiving 1,810,948 visitors).
It was followed by Edinburgh Castle in 16th position (1,778,548).The figures confirm earlier data and trends.
Other notable increases in Scotland include the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Modern One) which saw a 29% increase and rose 11 places after attracting 285,688 visitors; Urquhart Castle (Drumnadrochit, near Inverness) saw a 14% increase and Riverside Museum, Glasgow saw a 11.23% increase (25th place & 1,259,042).
In total, 66,938,947 people – more than the population of the UK – visited attractions in London and therefore it is no surprise that the Top 10 most visited attractions were all London based.
The British Museum continued to be the most popular visitor attraction overall for the 10th year running with 6,420,395 visitors and remaining in 2nd place was the National Gallery with 6,262,839 visitors – seeing a 6% increase. Third place was achieved by the Tate Modern, which saw 5,839,197 visitors; the Natural History Museum moved to 4th place, and the Southbank Centre was 5th.
Bernard Donoghue, director of ALVA, commented: “Like the 2015 figures, Scotland has continued to outperform the rest of the UK with a substantial increase in visitor numbers. 2016 was a great year for Scottish Tourism – proving that Scotland is reaping the benefits of significant capital investment in attractions and creative programming by its institutions.”
He added: “2017 should be another memorable year for ALVA members with a wonderful selection of temporary exhibitions including Frank Quitely: the Art of Comics which will open on April 1st at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow, and Beyond Caravaggio will run at the Scottish National Gallery between June 17 – September 24.”
Scottish Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “As these figures illustrate, this has been a record year for Scotland’s leading visitor attractions. Our wide range of attractions and excellent heritage and museum collections continue to provide high-quality and exciting experiences, both to people who live here, and to our visitors.
“The success of our leading visitor attractions will continue to play a vital role in making Scotland a destination of first choice for visitors from the UK and across the world.”