Scottish visitor attractions prosper

By | Category: Travel news

The Black Watch Museum in Perth which saw the highest percentage increase in visitors

ASVA – the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions – has announced that visits to its member sites rose in 2016. It has 249 members and they received almost 30 million visits last year a 6% increase over 2015. Sports and activity centres did particularly well with numbers up by 28.7%, castles and heritage sites had a 12% increase and museums and galleries.

This follows on the heels of the figures released by Historic Environment Scotland (HES) a week or so ago which also saw rises in visitor numbers. And, like the HES results, ASVA says that Edinburgh was a key place. Edinburgh Castle was the most visited attraction run by HES and ASVA says that 11 of the top 20 attractions were located in Edinburgh compared with 9 in 2015. The ASVA member, National Museum of Scotland, saw the most visitors over this period, (nearly 2.7 million visits,) following the opening of ten new galleries in July, even overtaking Edinburgh Castle as the most visited attraction in Scotland.

Britannia © Marc Miller

A new addition to the 2016 top 20 list was The Royal Yacht Britannia. Overall, some 54% of all visits were made to attractions that featured in the top 20 list. The Loch Ness area also did well despite there being few sightings of Nessie in 2016 of Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness by Jacobite recorded significant increases in visitor numbers of 14% and 15% respectively. 200,000 people  – a new record – travelled on board the cruise company’s four vessels.

interior of the National Museum

inside the National Museum in Edinburgh, the attraction that received the highest number of visitors

The Highland Wildlife Park in Kingussie reported a 10% rise in numbers, while Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre continued to feel the impact of the ‘Outlander’ TV series, recording a 21% increase.

In Perthshire, The Black Watch Castle & Museum had the biggest increase in visitors – 1,248%  –  largely on the back of ‘Weeping Window’, a sculpture featuring thousands of handmade ceramic poppies commemorating those who died in World War One. The Museum was the first location in mainland Scotland to host the sculpture which included a selection of those poppies seen so vividly at the Tower of London a few years ago.

Apart from the news about visitor numbers for The Royal Yacht Britannia, the vessel had another recent reason to celebrate. It prides itself in providing the highest standards of customer service annually to its 350,000 visitors from across the world. Of the 13,856 reviews posted on TripAdvisor, to date, by visitors, 72.1% are rated as ‘Excellent’ giving it the highest ‘Excellent’ percentage rating of any large attraction in Scotland, and second only in the UK to the British Museum in London.

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