Nearly 3.4 million people visited Historic Scotland’s 78 paid-for staffed sites this year. This 7% rise on last year helped increase agency tourism by £31.5 million, a 13% rise year on year. One of the reasons for the increase is undoubtedly the Jubilee, which saw a rise in footfall and income on the previous year. With 2012 being the Year of Creative Scotland, a celebration of Scotland’s culture and heritage, this comes as good news for the attractions industry.
Not surprisingly, the top attraction was Edinburgh Castle, which saw a rise of around 10%, bringing this year’s total visitors to over 1.3 million, with the Queen’s Jubilee contributing significantly.
“Edinburgh Castle, our top attraction, was the best performing site with 30, 769 visitors over the five day Jubilee holiday, including two days with over 7, 000 visitors, which is a new record for June.” said Stephen Duncan, Historic Scotland’s Director of Tourism and Commercial. Duncan added,
“This is a 14 % increase in visitors across all of our sites, compared to last year’s bank holiday weekend which began on 27th May 2011.”
Stirling Castle also had a great year, with both the Jubilee and the £12 million restoration of Stirling Palace both being a major factor. More than 440, 000 people visited the castle, with over ten thousand during the jubilee festivities and 4, 500 during the much anticipated reopening of Stirling Palace during June 2011.
Duncan added “The Diamond Jubilee holiday was very successful in terms of visitor numbers with 84, 643 people coming to our attractions between Friday 1st and Tuesday 5th of June 2012”.
On the north shores of Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle also had a superb year with a 10% rise in visitors, taking footfall to over 317, 000 and ensuring that all three Historic Scotland top tourist attractions had a record breaking year.
In even more good news, the membership income rose above the £2 million mark, with the agency’s retail figures breaking the £7 million barrier. Public admissions saw an income increase of 16% with a 20% rise in income generated from tourists visiting via travel and tour operators.
Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs welcomed the figures. She said: “These statistics speak for themselves and show that Scotland’s historic visitor attractions continue to play a vital role in the country’s tourism industry and the wider economy.”
Hyslop added: “Many visitors from all over the world come to Scotland to experience our rich, diverse and colourful history and Historic Scotland’s properties provide our visitors with a unique experience to see our history up close.”
One area that didn’t see an improvement was corporate events, where there was a 4% drop in income over the year to just over £400, 000; this decrease was partly due to the tightening of corporate budgets.
Stephen Duncan welcomed the increased revenue from Historic Scotland’s tourist attractions, adding that it will make funds available for further reinvestment.