Free tourist attractions prove doubly popular

19 April 2016

Free attraction Loch Lomond Shores attracted more than one million visitors in 2015

Free attraction Loch Lomond Shores attracted more than one million visitors in 2015

‘Free’ is the magic number when it comes to visitor attractions in Scotland, according to new research by Glasgow Caledonian University’s (GCU) Moffat Centre for Travel and Tourism Business Development.

Findings from the Centre’s annual Visitor Attraction Monitor showed free admissions welcomed more than double the number of visitors as paid admissions in 2015, despite over half of Scotland’s attractions including an entry charge.

More than 41 million people flocked to free attractions last year, up by 1.6% on 2014. Free Edinburgh attractions such as the National Museum of Scotland and Scottish National Gallery continue to draw huge numbers of visitors, whilst 67% of all Greater Glasgow & Clyde Valley attractions are free admission, amassing more than 17 million visits.

The detailed data, which covers 720 Scottish attractions, showed a 2.2% overall increase across the country, with attractions in the Kingdom of Fife boasting the greatest increase in visitors and the greatest spend per visit.

It also found transport-themed attractions like the Falkirk Wheel, Edinburgh Bus Tours and the Strathspey Steam Railway were particularly popular in 2015, recording a collective 10% increase.

Professor John Lennon, Director of the Moffat Centre for Travel and Tourism Business Development at GCU, said: “It may come as no surprise that tourists love free attractions, but paid attractions can take solace that overall visit numbers have also increased. Scotland boasts a fantastic breadth of options for tourists and the Visitor Attraction Monitor provides Scottish attractions with detailed, consistent and reliable data to shape their future planning.”

The findings follow the results of the top ten tourist attractions revealed in February, which showed seven Scottish attractions achieved more than one million visitors each. Edinburgh Castle remained Scotland’s most popular attraction overall, with over 1,568,500 visitors.

The Visitor Attraction Monitor, published today, has provided unrivalled annual analysis of Scottish attraction performance since 1999.