Scotland's outdoor attractions prove popular with visitors

Glenfinnan Monument Visitor numbers to the Glenfinnan Monument near Fort William rose by more than 25% in 2013

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Scotland's top outdoor attractions experienced an increase in visitor numbers last year, new figures show.

The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (Alva) said outdoor sites enjoyed a rise of 5%, but footfall to museums and galleries was down.

The National Trust for Scotland (NTS) benefitted the most with large footfall increases across its locations.

The association said last summer's good weather may have contributed to the rise.

'Bond effect'

National Trust for Scotland locations with the biggest rise in visitor numbers included Glencoe, up by about 42% on the previous year, and Culloden Battlefield near Inverness which enjoyed an 11% boost.

The conservation charity's Glenfinnan Monument near Fort William saw numbers rise by 25%, while visits to Pitmedden Garden in Aberdeenshire were up by 29%.

Edinburgh Castle Edinburgh Castle always proves popular and was the biggest paid-for attraction
Pitmedden Garden Reader Catherine J Campbell took this shot of flora and fauna on a trip to Pitmedden Garden
Boots at Glencoe The area around Glencoe is a magnet for hillwalkers, as Liz Melvin found on her visit
Glencoe Darren Buchan captured the sunshine on Stob a' Ghlais Choire, looking toward Ben Nevis and the Mamores

The NTS said its Glencoe site may also have benefited from its appearance in the 2012 James Bond film Skyfall.

A spokeswoman said: "Trends for the trust seem to be moving in the right direction with a small increase in paying visitors overall and a growing membership too.

Start Quote

2013 was a fantastic year for our sites - with record-breaking figures”

End Quote Stephen Duncan Historic Scotland

"A few of our properties have performed very strongly, especially at Glencoe which seems so be basking in the Bond effect. We're hoping to build on these results in 2014, when Scotland welcomes the world."

The National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh was the most popular free attraction outside London with 1,768,090 visitors, but that was a drop of 7% on the previous year.

Numbers at Edinburgh Zoo also fell by 6%, although they remained 40% higher than before the arrival of giant pandas Tian Tian and Yang Guang in 2011.

Elsewhere in the capital, visits to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art fell by around 16% and numbers at the Scottish Portrait Gallery dropped 20%.

But footfall at Historic Scotland's Edinburgh Castle increased 15%, topping 1.4 million for the first time and making it the number one paid-for place to visit outside London.

Kelvingrove Museum The Kelvingrove has enjoyed a good year and is a firm favourite for visitors to Glasgow
Riverside Museum The Riverside is the European Museum of the Year 2013, but it has seen a drop in visitors
Culloden Reader Keith Bell visited Leanach Cottage on Culloden Moor with his children Toby and Connie
Dame Judi Dench in Skyfall The Bond movie Skyfall is credited with boosting levels of interest in Glencoe

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: "Edinburgh Castle continues to captivate visitors from around the world and I am delighted that it has welcomed more than 1.4 million visitors for the first time, which is a significant milestone.

"Scotland's heritage sector continues to play an important role, supporting 60,000 jobs, contributing over £2bn to our economy and continuing to enthral visitors from home and abroad."

In Glasgow, Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum attracted 1,044,067 visitors, a slight increase on the previous year, but numbers at the nearby Riverside Museum fell by about 27%.

Stephen Duncan, Historic Scotland's commercial and tourism director, said that the figures, showing an overall increase across the board, highlighted the increasing importance of tourism in Scotland.

He said: "2013 was a fantastic year for our sites - with record-breaking figures, membership at an all-time high and Edinburgh Castle breaking the 1.4 million visitor mark for the first time.

"In terms of trends, we had anticipated an increase in travel trade numbers this year after a flattening-out of numbers in 2012, however the increase has exceeded all expectations.

"We are also benefiting from an increase in visitors from China and the emerging markets."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    @46. douglas97
    I'm guessing it's a commitment to a greener Scotland. Producing hydro and wind power is significantly better for the environment than coal fueled petrol stations. Although, those wind turbines are a menace to the poor wee birds.

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    According to salmond, Scotland has more oil and gas in the north sea than we could ever need and that Scotland has a stunning landscape, why then does he want to build windmills everywhere

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    Scotland - best country in the world!

    Others that say otherwise are not wise!

    Come visits Scotland, the more the merrier, ALL are very welcome!

    C McK

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    Its amazing how much we take for granted. Its a shame that the independence paper says NOTHING about the care of these priceless assets.

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    37. gogs, how can you say the Glenfinnan monument is horrible; its setting at the end of Loch Shiel makes for a stunning vista.

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    National Parks
    Day trips
    Oh and excellent food, wonderful whisky’s, history, terrific biking roads, and Glencoe and romance and yep I know its an anagram of Cameron ! And there are many more hidden gems to find still

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    As a country bumpkin myself, from the far south of Devon, I have many happy memories of holidaying in Scotland. On one memorable trip my better half & I hitchhiked to John 'O Groats & back. We didn't feel truly at home until we'd crossed the border into Scotland & suddenly people were welcoming again... shop keepers smiled, little old ladies chatted at bus stops, it was as friendly as it is here!

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    Each to his own.

    To the anglophiles........

    No skills!................ England has imported 7 million immigrants in the last 20 years.
    Head South!..........To the subsidised multicultural cokehead capital!!!!!!!!!!
    No caravans!.........They are all floating down the Thames.

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    37. gogs
    Why would anyone want to see the Glenfinnan monument...'orrible?
    The Cairngorms looks like a desert; no trees...chopped down by the locals!
    The wildlife and the human habitation in the Highlands is its beauty
    Well the Highlands were covered in oak trees and all cut down for the 1st and 2nd world wars with the promise from Westminster to be re planted!

    Vote YES and be rid!

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    Been visiting scotland for past 11 years every summer, so many wonderful sights to see and places to visit. Why people knock the places like Glenfinnan, is beyond me. Seen so many wonderful places The highlands are rich in history and beauty. Thats why movie directors return time and time again

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    Why would anyone want to see the Glenfinnan monument...'orrible?
    The Cairngorms looks like a desert; no trees...chopped down by the locals!
    The wildlife and the human habitation in the Highlands is its beauty

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    Motorbiked round the coast, Wester Ross is awesome.

    Went to Lewis for sun kissed beaches. Beautiful island.

    Not really done the tourist stuff on my doorstep. Been to Inverness more times than I have Glasgow, but the choice between cosmopolitan hustle and bustle v peace and quiet is a great one to have.

    We should all enjoy what we have.

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    Rousay? The small, hilly island about 1.9 miles north of Orkney's mainland?

    Ah the Egypt of the North.

    I've enjoyed many a dip in Muckle Water. Refreshment indeed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    it's of no surprise of number of vistors. Scotland is a country of unrivalled beauty.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    @ 29. Andrew Hendry

    Sorry, didn't realise you'd had a humour bypass

    happened to have lived on Rousay - why don't you Google it to find out where it is - meanwhile I'll dream of sun kissed beaches miles and miles away

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    scotland has so many areas that are just as gorgeous in summer time as they are in winter so we should be proud of that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    @26 Hew and Cry It probably escaped your mind that Scotland had a few islands in the top ten in the world last week. But then again Scotland has more islands than the rest of the world going by your argument!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    Lewis and Harris named as Europe's top island by TripAdvisor

    It also beat rivals in Thailand, Chile and Madagascar to be included in the top five islands in the world

    People from all over the world travel yo Scotland for our because of our spectacular scenery & wildlife, our culture & heritage

    Our climate & mountains entice hill walkers to skiers to surfers

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    @27. West of Eden

    Is that supposed to be a joke? I've been to both, and I would much rather return to Skara Brae than the toilet that is Majorca.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    @18 Hue and Cry

    I noticed that you didn't mention confuciousfred in your one-sided bigoted argument.


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