Another successful year for Scotland’s top visitor attractions

Botanic Lights: Night in the Garden, An evening light event at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE), which was open to the public from October 30 to November 23. Pic: Andrew O'Brien.

Botanic Lights: Night in the Garden, An evening light event at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE), which was open to the public from October 30 to November 23. Pic: Andrew O'Brien.

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Record numbers visited Scotland’s tourist attractions last year - with six sites attracting more than a million visits each.

Over 27 million trips were made to attractions across the country in 2015, a rise of 3.4 per cent on the previous year.

Edinburgh Castle was the top paid for visitor attraction in Scotland in 2015. Picture by Andrew O'Brien:

Edinburgh Castle was the top paid for visitor attraction in Scotland in 2015. Picture by Andrew O'Brien:

The number of Scottish sites attracting over one million visits remains at six after doubling from three to six the previous year.

For the fifth year, the National Museum of Scotland was the most visited attraction while Edinburgh Castle was once again the top paid-for attraction.

Edinburgh continues to dominate the marketplace, with nine of the top 20 attractions located in the city.

Heather Jackson, director of Enterprise at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, which saw a rise of 10.2 per cent in visitor numbers, said: “April, May and June saw us welcoming more than 100,000 visitors each month. We also had a really strong summer season, driven by events such as Cake Fest Edinburgh on Midsummer’s Day, as well as our

unique autumn ‘Botanic Lights’ event, which attracted an audience of 26,000.”

But Glasgow sites also fared well, recording an overall increase in visitor numbers of 2.4 per cent.

Exhibitions such as Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum’s ‘Hatching the Past: Dinosaur Eggs and Babies’ attracted

82,000 people from Easter to mid-August last year.

Another area of Scotland which fared well in 2015 was The Highlands, where Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre and Highland Folk Museum both recorded notable increases on the back of media coverage generated by the ‘Outlander’ TV series. Jacobite Cruises, which offers scenic cruises on Loch Ness, also recorded an 11 per cent rise in passengers.

Meanwhile, in Grampian, National Trust for Scotland properties outperformed other similar heritage sites. Drum Castle’s new fit-for-purpose gallery space, created in a ground-breaking collaboration with Aberdeen Art Gallery, generated a high number of repeat visits while innovative events programmes at Brodie and Crathes Castles proved extremely popular.

Douglas Walker, chairman of ASVA said: “After a number of challenging years for the sector, it is clear that visitor attractions are entering what we hope will be a period of sustained growth.

“The attractions which have done particularly well in 2015 are those that have invested in their visitor offer by developing innovative new products and services, as well as launching creative events and exhibitions programmes, all of which are vital for keeping visitors coming back time and again.”