New visitor attraction figures show 19% increase in Scotland

The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) has announced its members’ visitor figures for 2018 which saw an average increase of 8.68% on 2017 visits to UK attractions, while attractions in Scotland saw the biggest increase of 19.07%. Overall 138, 823, 297 visits were made to the top 249 ALVA sites in the UK.

For the second year, the most visited attractions outside London were in Scotland.

In 11th place was the National Museum of Scotland which continues to be the most visited attraction outside London with a 3% increase and 2,227,773 visits.

In 12th position was Edinburgh Castle with a 2% increase (2,111,578) – continuing to be the most visited paid for attraction in Scotland. The Scottish National Gallery saw a 9% increase to 1,739,128 and 16th place.

Elsewhere in Scotland, V&A Dundee opened in September and had already received 341,265 visits by the end of 2018.

4 of the top 7 ALVA sites with the most growth in the whole of the UK were National Trust for Scotland sites.

The introduction of the Weehailes children’s playpark at Newhailes, near Musselburgh, East Lothian resulted in an phenomenal increase of 1168.7% (68,360 visits) and the Wa-Hey for play facility at the Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway, Ayr saw a 62% increase to 266,369 visits.

While Historic Environment Scotland’s Doune Castle in Stirlingshire, which was a location in the very popular TV series Outlander, saw a 14% increase to 142,091 and the Highland Wildlife Park in Inverness-shire saw a 51.5% increase 205,930, which was due to the huge popularity of Hamish the Polar Bear, who was born in 2017.

Mackintosh 150 – a year-long programme of events and exhibitions – celebrated the 150th anniversary of the birth and incredible architectural, artistic and design legacy of one of Scotland’s great cultural icons. Scotland Street School Museum was Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s last assignment in Glasgow and is considered by many to be one of his architectural masterpieces, so it was no surprise that it saw an increase of 21% with 61,846 visits. 

Responding to the ALVA announcement, Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland Chief Executive, said: “Scotland’s many visitor attractions are a valuable part of the country’s outstanding tourism offering, showcasing our rich history and heritage and sharing Scotland’s story with visitors from far and wide.

“We’re delighted that Scottish attractions are continuing to perform strongly in the UK which is a testament to the industry’s drive to create innovative and dynamic visitor experiences. With the opening of Moat Brae in Dumfries and the redevelopment of Aberdeen Art Gallery taking place this year, following in the wake of the hugely popular V&A Dundee, there is plenty of new and exciting attractions to look forward to in 2019.”

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