Scotland’s top tourist sites revealed

23 April 2013

Scotland’s top tourist sites revealed

Researchers recorded over 48 million visits to Scottish attractions

The number of people visiting Scotland’s top tourist attractions held steady over the past year – defying 2012’s wet summer and withstanding the huge draw of the Olympic Games in London.

Researchers for Glasgow Caledonian University’s influential Moffat Centre Visitor Attraction Monitor 2012 recorded a total of just over 48 million visits to 654 participating tourist sites across Scotland.

The ‘big winner’ in the free admission category is the National Museum of Scotland, with just under 1.9 million visits – up more than 29% on 2011, after a full year of operations following its £47 million transformation.

Loch Lomond Shores and Kelvingrove Museum also recorded an increase, taking second and third places, with the Riverside Museum in fourth.

Attractions in Edinburgh dominated the Paid Admission top ten – Historic Scotland’s Edinburgh Castle retained its No1 spot with more than 1.2 million visits, followed by Edinburgh Zoo, which experienced a 50% increase in visits following the arrival of the two new giant pandas and Edinburgh Bus Tours with just over half a million visits in 2012.

Overall, Scotland’s museums enjoyed the biggest rise in visitors, up more than 500,000, while wildlife and animal attractions also drew increased visitor numbers by 362,793.

Professor John Lennon, Director of the Moffat Centre for Travel and Tourism Business Development, said: “In a tough trading environment, Scottish visitor attractions are holding market share driving visitation and showing evidence of real creativity in marketing and generating media coverage. We have a set of world class attractions that are comparable with those in much larger nations and they constitute a major element of the appeal of Scotland as a visitor destination.”

Mike Cantlay, Chairman of VisitScotland, said: “2012 was a challenging year for Scottish tourism, so I am delighted that overall our plethora of wonderful visitor attractions performed well, a true testament to the quality and variety of activities on offer.  A special mention must go to the National Museum of Scotland which has had a truly exceptional year and should be thoroughly commended.

“As we prepare to welcome the world to Scottish shores in 2014 for the Commonwealth Games, Ryder Cup and Homecoming, it will be an honour to be able to inspire visitors with such a mix of fascinating sites from historic castles, distilleries and houses to breathtaking gardens, wildlife centres and parks - and of course everything in between.”

GCU’s Moffat Centre, a world leader in tourism business development, has been surveying Scotland’s attractions since 1999.

Download the report here

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