Snow and staycations help Scotland’s tourist attractions weather recession

12 April 2011

Snow and staycations help Scotland’s tourist attractions weather recession

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

The Moffat Centre’s influential survey of Scotland’s tourist industry has revealed that more than 43 million people visited Scotland’s attractions last year.

Visits were down just 0.3% from 2009, with heavy snow fall and the continuing popularity of the staycation helping keep the country’s attractions busy.

The Moffat Centre Visitor Attraction Monitor 2010, which heard from more than 600 tourist sites, reports that Glenshee Ski Centre attracted 171% more skiers (125,831, up from 46,355 in 2009), while the Nevis Range hosted 16% more, and the Cairngorm Mountain Railway attracted 15% more passengers than in 2009).

Other success stories of 2010 identified by the Moffat Centre for Travel and Tourism Business Development survey include Dundee’s McManus Art Gallery and Museum, which welcomed 198,871 visitors last year following an extensive refurbishment which began in 2005; Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, which welcomed 22% more visitors (up from 581,358 in 2009 to 707,244 last year) attracted by its new John Hope gateway visitor centre, opened by HM the Queen in July; Kirkcaldy Museum and Art Gallery, where a Jack Vettriano exhibition boosted visitor figures by 45% (from 59,421 in 2009 to 85,886 in 2010), and the new Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, which opened in November, where visitors were up by 6% on 2009.

The centre’s Professor John Lennon said: “Our survey reflects that the effects of the recession have been balanced by the popularity of the staycation market and the relative benefits of the Sterling/Euro exchange rate. It also shows that Historic Scotland sites such as Edinburgh Castle remain must-see icons for international and national tourists and it is notable that the Scottish ski industry demonstrates its importance to the tourism industry with the presence of Nevis Range and Cairngorm Mountain Railway in the top 20 paid-admission table.”

Scotland’s attractions hosted 43,203,472 visitors in 2010. Edinburgh Castle was once again the biggest paid-admission attraction – it has topped the list since 1991 when figures were first collected. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, usually Scotland’s top free attraction, was this year overtaken by Strathclyde Country Park – country parks are being included in the Moffat survey for the first time – and by the National Galleries of Scotland, which for the first time combined visitor numbers across all its Edinburgh sites. Ayrshire and Arran experienced the greatest increase in visitor numbers – up 20.8%, while Greater Glasgow and Clyde Valley saw the biggest fall – down 6.3%. Free attractions welcomed twice as many visitors as paid-for attractions.


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