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16 March 2018

Scotland out-performs rest of UK for 6th year running

Edinburgh Castle climbs to 12th most-visited UK attraction as Scotland out-performs rest of UK for 6th year running in ALVA visitor figures

castle on a rock with blue sky above

The annual release of visitor figures from the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) has seen Edinburgh Castle leap four places in the rankings to be named the 12th most-visited attraction in the UK for 2017.

Recording a 16% increase in footfall as it welcomed 2,063,709 visitors last year, the iconic castle cemented its place as the top paid-for attraction in Scotland.

The release of visitor figures also showed a number of other Historic Environment Scotland (HES) managed sites performing strongly throughout the last year. Stirling Castle and Urquhart Castle both welcomed record numbers of visitors in 2017, with 18% and 23% increases in footfall respectively. Glasgow Cathedral joined these sites in the UK top 100 for the first time, as it saw visitor numbers increase by 36% to 389,101.

These historic attractions were closely followed by sites such as Doune Castle, which continued to celebrate the ‘Outlander effect’ throughout 2017 with a 38% surge in visitor numbers to 124,341; Skara Brae in Orkney, which witnessed an 18% increase in footfall as it recorded 110,028 visitors; and St Andrews Castle, which saw an 18% increase in footfall bring its visitor tally for the year to 90,617.

Stephen Duncan, Director of Commercial & Tourism at HES and ALVA Board member, said: “I’m very pleased to welcome these latest visitor figures from ALVA, which show Scotland’s heritage tourism sector performed impressively throughout the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.

“2017 was a spectacularly successful year for our sites, with our top 10 sites – including Edinburgh, Stirling and Urquhart Castles – all celebrating record-breaking visitor numbers.

“One of many highlights was Edinburgh Castle breaking the 2m barrier in a calendar year for the first time, remaining Scotland’s most-visited paid-for attraction.

“These visitor figures demonstrate the enduring appeal of Scotland’s history and heritage for both tourists and home-grown visitors alike.”

The latest figures from ALVA show that 2017 was a record year for Scottish tourism, with attractions in Scotland seeing an overall 14% increase in footfall – out-performing the UK as a whole.

Bernard Donoghue, Director of ALVA, commented: “2017 was a remarkable and record-setting year for Scottish attractions. The fact that Scottish visitor attractions are outperforming the rest of the UK in visitor growth reflects years of strong investment by central and local government in Scotland, and by organisations such as the Heritage Lottery Fund, in Scotland’s visitor economy and cultural landscape.”

About Historic Environment Scotland (HES)

Year of Young People 2018

The Year of Young People (YoYP 2018) will inspire Scotland through its young people aged 8 to 26, celebrating their achievements, valuing their contributions to communities and creating new opportunities for them to shine locally, nationally and globally. Over 200 young people throughout Scotland will become #YOYP2018 Ambassadors, ensuring their communities know about local opportunities to celebrate young people.

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For further information, please contact:

Claire Mullaney
Historic Environment Scotland Media Office
Direct Line: 0131 668 8588
Mobile: 07881 512 379