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7 March 2016

Edinburgh Castle named Scotland's most visited attraction

More than one and a half million visitors flocked to Edinburgh Castle in 2015.

Edinburgh Castle has been named Scotland’s most visited attraction – ahead of the National Museum of Scotland for the first time in five years – as new figures reveal that more than one and a half million visitors flocked to the castle in 2015.

The iconic heritage attraction which welcomed 1,568,508 people through its gates last year, an increase of 5.9%, was joined by two other Historic Scotland properties in a record-breaking year for visitor figures, as both Stirling and Urquhart Castles also reported an increase.

The UK wide figures were announced today – Monday 7th March – by The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA). The association, which releases its figures annually, counts some of the UK’s biggest tourist attractions as members, also revealed that Scottish attractions witnessed the greatest increase in visitors of 5.48% overall, last year.

Reporting an increase of 4.1%, a total of 458,932 visitors, Stirling Castle also had a strong year as it hosted the Great Tapestry of Scotland and marked the completion of a 14-year-long project to recreate the tapestries of James V. Whilst Urquhart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness welcomed 348,691 a growth of 5.5% on last year’s performance.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Stephen Duncan, Director of Commercial and Tourism at Historic Environment Scotland, said: “It’s great to see Edinburgh Castle at the top of the table in Scotland after another record-breaking year for the castle. We’ve seen particular growth in online and travel trade at the castle in 2015, and following a refresh of the castle website towards the end of the year I’m sure this will continue.

“Meanwhile, both Stirling Castle and Urquhart Castle have also had record years, with each seeing a rise in visitors signing up for membership – showing that Scotland’s historic visitor attractions continue to be a vital component of the country’s tourism experience.”

Bernard Donoghue, Director of ALVA, added: “2015 continued to be a record year mainly due to our members continuing to show how diverse the UK is to both domestic and overseas visitors. The current weakness of the £ to the $ and Euro is making the UK a more affordable destination and 2016 is on target to be another memorable year for ALVA members.”

Notes for editors

  • ALVA’s members are the UK's most popular, iconic and important museums, galleries, palaces, castles, cathedrals, zoos, historic houses, heritage sites, gardens and leisure attractions. The 64 ALVA members manage some nearly 2,200 tourist sites and welcome over 119 million domestic and overseas visitors each year; some 28% of the visits made annually in the United Kingdom.

About Historic Environment Scotland (HES)

  • As of the 1st October 2015, Historic Scotland and RCAHMS came together to form a new lead public body charged with caring for, protecting and promoting the historic environment. The new body Historic Environment Scotland (HES) will lead on delivering Scotland’s first strategy for the historic environment, Our Place in Time.
  • Historic Scotland is a sub brand of HES.
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Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016

2016 is the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design (IAD). Through a series of exciting events and activity, the year will showcase Scotland's position as an "innovation nation", its outstanding built heritage, and its thriving, internationally acclaimed creative industries sector. This is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland and supported by a variety of partners.

Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016

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For further information

Grant Thomson
Historic Environment Scotland Media Office
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