Record for Castle, but..

Scotland sees surge in visits to key attractions

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle’s record visitor numbers failed to see it at number one

The National Museum of Scotland kept Edinburgh Castle off top spot in last year’s top 20 Scottish attractions.

This was despite the castle drawing more than two million visitors for the first time.

Film and television locations in Scotland continue to be a big appeal as new data from the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions (ASVA) shows visits up 10% on the previous year.

Spending by tourists in Scotland generates around £12 billion of economic activity in the wider Scottish supply chain and contributes around £6bn to Scottish GDP (in basic prices). This represents about 5% of total Scottish GDP.

Overall, 77% of attractions reported an increase on 2016 figures, with a significant number noting that 2017 was their “best year to date”.

Castles and heritage sites were up 14.7%; museums and galleries 7.5%; gardens 13.6% and distilleries and whisky-related attractions 11.8%.

Edinburgh continued to be the main attraction, with 11 of the top 20 attractions located in the capital. Edinburgh Castle retained its status as the most popular ‘paid’ attraction.

Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre, Glasgow Cathedral, Castle Fraser and Glenfinnan Monument drew fans of cult television series such as Outlander.

Douglas Walker, chairman of ASVA, said: “These figures demonstrate that the visitor attractions sector in Scotland is in robust health.

“Attractions that have invested in their visitor offer by developing innovative new products and services and launching inspiring events and exhibitions programmes, supported by creative and effective marketing campaigns, are not only reaching new visitor markets but are actively encouraging their existing visitors to return time and again.”

Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland chief executive, said: “It is fantastic to see such strong growth in numbers for the fourth year running.

2017 was the year to delve into Scotland’s fascinating past, and the huge success of the Year of history, heritage and archaeology will have undoubtedly helped shine a light on the country’s many ancient castles and heritage sites, including Edinburgh Castle which, for the first time, attracted over two million visitors. An incredible achievement.

“The continued impact of the Outlander effect and the growing popularity of whisky tourism are also positioning Scotland as an unmissable destination for film and food and drink experiences.

“Scotland’s reputation as a quality destination relies on the strength of its offering, our visitor attractions are a vital asset as we look to grow our tourism industry and position Scotland as a quality destination for visitors from across the world. “

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