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Rise in visits to Scotland’s main tourist attractions

Press Release   •   May 05, 2015 16:43 BST

Visits to Scotland’s main tourist attractions increased by 1.7 million last year, according to new research conducted by Glasgow Caledonian University’s (GCU) Moffat Centre for Travel and Tourism Business Development.

The research undertaken finds visitor numbers rose to more than 55 million, up 3.3% in 2014.

The survey of 687 tourist sites found the most popular destinations in Scotland were free admission attractions, which welcomed more than twice as many visitors as those with entry fees.

The National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh was the number one free attraction in 2014 with more than 1,639,509 visitors, followed by the Scotland National Gallery in Edinburgh, Lomond Shores, and Kelvingrove Art Gallery and the Riverside Museum both in Glasgow.

Historic Scotland’s Edinburgh Castle was, once again, the most popular paid attraction with 1,480,676 visitors in 2014, up 4.3% compared to 2013. Top paid attractions in Scotland included Edinburgh Zoo, Edinburgh Bus Tours, Stirling Castle and Glasgow’s Science Centre.

Success stories include Glasgow’s Riverside Museum, which saw visitor numbers rise by 41.8% between 2013 and 2014 to 1,049,834 visitors, and the Helix in Falkirk, which in its first year welcomed an estimated 800,000 visitors, resulting in a knock-on effect in the local area and an increase of 26.4% of visitors to the Falkirk Wheel.

Professor John Lennon, Director of the Moffat Centre for Travel and Tourism Business Development at GCU, said: “2014 proved to be a winning year with visitor attractions enjoying the profile Scotland gained internationally as a result of key events such as the Commonwealth Games, the Ryder Cup, and Homecoming 2014. Many operators also saw positive impacts from the anniversaries associated with the First World War, which served to heighten Scotland’s profile and destination awareness, nationally and internationally.”

The Moffat Centre Visitor Attraction Monitor undertaken by GCU’s Moffat Centre for Travel and Tourism Business Development is Europe’s most detailed and consistent review of attraction performance since 1999, providing unrivalled knowledge of the sector.

The full Moffat Centre Visitor Attraction Monitor is available from the Moffat Centre by contacting (0)141 331 8400. A highlights document is attached to the release which gives an overview of the Monitor. 

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Year of Food and Drink 2015

  • 2015 is the Year of Food and Drink, a celebration of Scotland’s natural larder and the role that food and drink plays in shaping our economic success.
  • Scotland generates over £2.5m per day through food and drink tourism.
  • A series of themed months will create an appetite for key areas of Scotland’s food and drink industries – from seafood and whisky to berries and high-quality meat
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