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27 March 2019

Scotland out-performs rest of UK for 7th year running

Attractions in Scotland saw the biggest increase in visitors according to the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA)

View of Edinburgh Castle from Princes Street gardens

Edinburgh Castle has retained its status as the 12th most-visited attraction in the UK according to the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) which today (Wednesday 27 March) released its members' visitor figures for 2018.

In addition to outperforming the rest of the UK for the seventh year in a row, the most visited attractions outside London were in Scotland. Edinburgh Castle – the most-visited paid attraction in Scotland - welcomed 2,111,578 visitors in 2018 at an increase of 2% on the previous year.

Other HES sites which performed well include Doune Castle with 142,091 visitors at an increase of 14% on the previous year – partly due to the ongoing 'Outlander effect', and Stirling and Urquhart Castles which had 605,241 and 518,195 visits in 2018 respectively. 

A view from the battlement of the courtyard at Doune Castle.

142,091 visitors made the trip to Doune Castle

The UK as a whole saw an average year-on-year increase of 8.89% visits to attractions. However, Scotland saw the biggest increase with 19.65% while Northern Ireland saw 4.67% growth.

Stephen Duncan, Director of Commercial and Tourism at HES, said: "I am delighted that ALVA members across the UK have continued to see a rise in the numbers of visitors to their sites.

Scotland has outperformed the rest of the UK for the seventh year in a row, demonstrating the appeal our history and heritage has on international and domestic visitors. We look forward to another successful year across the sector and welcoming many more visitors to our sites."

Bernard Donoghue, Director of ALVA, commented: "I’m so delighted that every year, more and more people, from here in the UK and from overseas, are experiencing the astonishing array of our leading attractions in every part of the UK. Tourism is our 5th biggest industry and 3rd largest employer and ALVA members are proud to be the principal reason that overseas visitors cite when choosing to visit the UK."

About Historic Environment Scotland (HES)

  • We are the lead public body charged with caring for, protecting and promoting the historic environment. We will lead on delivering Scotland’s first strategy for the historic environment, Our Place in Time.
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For further information, please contact:

Stacey Dent
Historic Environment Scotland Media Office
Direct line: 0131 668 8097
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communications@hes.scot

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