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Scottish visitor attractions record another successful year in 2015

02 Mar 2016

The Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions (ASVA) has announced that visits to its member sites rose notably for the second year running in 2015.

ASVA, which represents the interests of the key visitor attractions sector in Scotland, has over 450 members comprising some of Scotland’s most popular and iconic castles, galleries, museums, historic houses, heritage sites, wildlife parks, gardens and leisure attractions.

Analysis of statistics submitted by almost 260 of the organisation’s member sites for its annual ‘Visitor Trends Report’ confirms that over 27 million visits were made to those sites in Scotland in 2015, a rise of 3.4% over 2014 figures. The increase comes on top of a 6% rise in 2014, suggesting that visitor attractions in Scotland are currently enjoying a period of sustained growth.

Sectors which fared particularly well in 2015 include gardens (+7.5%), museums and galleries (+2.7%), castles and heritage sites (+5.1%), and boat trips/marine-related attractions (+11.9%).

Edinburgh continued to dominate the marketplace, with 9 of the top 20 attractions located in the city and Edinburgh Castle welcoming the most visitors over this period, however, Glasgow attractions also fared well with exhibitions such as Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum’s ‘Hatching the Past: Dinosaur Eggs and Babies’, which attracted 82,000 people from Easter to mid-August, contributing to a 2.4% increase in visitor numbers overall for the city’s attractions.

Heather Jackson, Director of Enterprise at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, which saw a rise of 10.2% in visitor numbers said: “April, May and June saw us welcoming more than 100,000 visitors each month. We also had a really strong summer season, driven by events such as Cake Fest Edinburgh on Midsummer’s Day, as well as our unique autumn ‘Botanic Lights’ event, which attracted an audience of 26,000”.

Another area of Scotland which fared well in 2015 was The Highlands, where Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre and Highland Folk Museum both recorded notable increases on the back of media coverage generated by the ‘Outlander’ TV series. Jacobite Cruises, which offers scenic cruises on Loch Ness, also recorded an 11% rise in passengers.

In Grampian, National Trust for Scotland properties outperformed other similar heritage sites. Drum Castle’s new fit-for-purpose gallery space, created in a ground-breaking collaboration with Aberdeen Art Gallery, generated a high number of repeat visits while innovative events programmes at Brodie and Crathes Castles proved extremely popular.

Douglas Walker, Chair of ASVA said: “After a number of challenging years for the sector, it is clear that visitor attractions are entering what we hope will be a period of sustained growth. The attractions which have done particularly well in 2015 are those that have invested in their visitor offer by developing innovative new products and services, as well as launching creative events and exhibitions programmes, all of which are vital for keeping visitors coming back time and again”.


Media enquiries to Gillian Harrower, Tourism and Leisure Solutions, Tel. 01333 439683, E:

Notes to Editors

• A list of the ‘Top 20’ visitor attractions in Scotland is attached with this release.

• Visitor figures for individual participating attractions can be made available on request.

• ASVA Chief Executive Eva McDiarmid is available for interview. Individual attraction operators may also be available for interview/comment, subject to availability.

About ASVA

• ASVA has over 450 member visitor attractions.

• Visitor attractions in ASVA membership generate almost 5,000 Full Time Equivalent jobs for the Scottish economy.

• For more information on ASVA go to

About the Visitor Trends Report 2015

• The report was co-ordinated and collated by LJ Research of Edinburgh.

• Almost 260 visitor attractions across Scotland contributed data for the report.

• The figures quoted do not include country or forest parks, as there may be some methodological limitations in collecting this data.

Last Modified: Wednesday 15 June 2016 05:30
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