An iconic Highland castle which has welcomed over half a million visitors this year is celebrating after being given Five Star castle status by the national tourism organisation.
Eilean Donan Castle, situated at Dornie, by Kyle of Lochalsh, received the accolade from VisitScotland under its Quality Assurance scheme. The castle, which is one of the most visited and recognised in the Highlands, attracted 540,000 visitors this year – a rise of 12% on last year. To meet this increased demand, the castle now operates as an all-year-round visitor attraction.
Although first inhabited around the sixth century, the first fortified castle was built in the mid-13th century and stood guard over the lands of Kintail. Since then, at least four different versions of the castle have been built and re-built as the feudal history of Scotland unfolded through the centuries.
Chris Taylor, Regional Partnerships Director at VisitScotland, said: “Castle tourism is very important to Scotland and I would like to congratulate the staff at Eilean Donan Castle on this marvellous achievement. I’d also like to congratulate them on winning ‘Best Heritage Tourism Experience’ at the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards recently.
“Five-star status shows visitors that they can expect a fantastic and enjoyable experience, while learning all about the history of this beautiful building and it seems fitting that they have achieved this accolade in 2017, Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.
“It is evident that continual investment is being made in the castle and visitor centre to ensure that they deliver an excellent visitor experience. David and his team are committed to staff training and take pride that collectively the staff can converse with visitors in eight different languages.
“Quality Assurance is about more than just the stars on the door – it’s about the entire visitor experience and driving improvement in that experience throughout the country.”
David Win, General Manager at Eilean Donan Castle said: “The entire team at Eilean Donan are truly delighted to learn of the acquisition of our fifth Star in the VisitScotland Quality Assurance scheme. This award represents the culmination of many years of sustained commitment and investment to providing the very best visitor experience and services.
“The fact that this comes at such a buoyant time for Scottish tourism is also hugely satisfying. In the last five years we have increased our own annual visitor numbers to the site by over 200,000; placing significant pressures on our 65 employees. I’d like to thank each and every one of them for their incredible contribution in achieving our goals and aspirations.
“With significant investment already in the pipeline for further improvements to our visitor services, we look forward to cementing our place alongside the very best that Scottish tourism has to offer.”
Eilean Donan is recognised all around the world. Situated on an island at the point where three great sea lochs meet, and surrounded by majestic scenery, it is little wonder that the castle is now one of the most visited and important attractions in the Highlands. Owned by the Conchra Charitable Trust, the castle has its own visitor centre and employs 65 staff in its peak season.
It has featured in many films, including Bonnie Prince Charlie, starring David Niven (1948); The Master of Ballantrae starring Errol Flynn (1953), The New Avengers (1976); Highlander (1986); Loch Ness (1996) and James Bond – The World is Not Enough (1999).
Developed over the last four decades in partnership with the tourism industry and informed by visitor research, VisitScotland’s Quality Assurance schemes are world-leading. QA stars alongside online reviews give visitors a balance of objective and subjective views to assist in their decision making and expectations.
Notes to Editors
- Follow us on twitter: @visitscotnews
- VisitScotland is Scotland’s national tourism organisation. Its core purpose is to maximise the economic benefit of tourism to Scotland.
- The organisation’s core objective is to contribute to the Tourism 2020 Strategy ambition of growing tourism revenues by £1 billion by 2020.
- This will be supported by seven overarching strategies:
- Marketing: we will market Scotland and its outstanding assets to visitors from all parts of the world, including the promotion of Scotland to people living in Scotland to visit different parts of the country
- Events: we will support the national events strategy and its delivery, and sustain, develop and promote Scotland’s international profile as one of the world’s foremost events destinations
- Internationalisation and International Engagement: we will utilise all our platforms to enable Scottish-based tourism businesses to better understand international opportunities and market to a global audience and we will work within One Scotland Partnerships to optimise the potential of Scotland’s Diaspora and our strategic partners at regional, European and global levels
- Customer Experience: we will provide information and inspiration to visitors both locally and globally via their preferred medium of choice
- Quality and Sustainability: we will provide support and advice to businesses, with the goal of improving the quality and sustainability of the tourism sector in Scotland. We will provide quality assurance to visitors through our Quality Schemes
- Inclusive Tourism: we will strive to make tourism in Scotland inclusive and available to all
- Working in Partnership: we will listen to and work with the industry, partners and communities to shape our offering and support
- To ensure everyone can safely enjoy Scotland’s amazing countryside and landscapes, VisitScotland encourages all visitors to fully respect their surroundings by behaving in a responsible and appropriate way.
- VisitScotland works together with tourism businesses to make tourism a success for everyone and ensure the industry continues to grow.
- The organisation employs 700 people and has offices and VisitScotland Information Centres across Scotland.
- Spending by tourists in Scotland generates around £12 billion of economic activity in the wider Scottish supply chain and contributes around £6 billion to Scottish GDP (in basic prices). This represents about 5% of total Scottish GDP
- The Scottish Government is the Managing Authority for the European Structural Funds 2014-20 Programme. For further information visit www.gov.scot or follow @scotgovESIF
- For VisitScotland’s press releases go to http://www.visitscotland.org/media_centre.aspx, tourism statistics and frequently asked questions go to http://www.visitscotland.org/
- Where possible, a Gaelic speaker will be made available for broadcast interviews on request (Far an tèid iarraidh, agus far am bheil sin nar comas, bruidhinnidh neach le Gàidhlig aig agallamh) 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology
- 2017 is the year to delve into the past and discover Scotland’s fascinating stories through a wide-ranging variety of new and existing activity to drive the nation’s tourism and events sector, boosting tourism across Scotland.
- The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology begins on 1 January 2017 and will end on 31 December 2017. It will build on the momentum generated by previous themed years in Scotland including the 2015 Year of Food and Drink, Homecoming Scotland 2014, the Year of Creative and the Year of Natural.
- The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland, and supported by a variety of partners including Creative Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance, Scottish Enterprise, The National Trust for Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Built Environment Forum Scotland, Heritage Lottery Fund, Museums Galleries Scotland and Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland.
- The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is supported by £570,000 of Scottish Government funding.
- The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology events fund is managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.
- For more information visit visitscotland.com/HHA2017 or join the conversation at #HHA2017