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Minister welcomes leading tourism attractions to Edinburgh Castle

12 May 2008

Linda Fabiani MSP, Minister for Europe, External Affairs and Culture, is officially hosting a dinner at Edinburgh Castle for the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA). Historic Scotland, who care for Edinburgh Castle, invited ALVA to hold their spring council meeting at Scotland’s leading visitor attraction.

ALVA is a trade grouping of the largest visitor attractions in the UK; members include The British Museum, Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Westminster Abbey and the Eden Project. Each member attracts over one million visitors per year. The role of ALVA is to represent the views and achievements of these foremost attractions, focusing on effectiveness of the tourism industry and improving the commercial performance of its members.

Edinburgh Castle, which welcomes almost 1.3 million visitors each year, is part of ALVA's quality benchmarking scheme which involves a quarterly programme of collecting visitors’ views. Historic Scotland is also part of the mystery guest programme where staff from other attractions visit the properties in the care of the agency to give their views on services and facilities.

Linda Fabiani, MSP, Minister for Europe, External Affairs and Culture, said;

“I’m delighted that ALVA accepted Historic Scotland’s invitation to hold its council meeting in the fantastic surroundings of Edinburgh Castle, which is both a national and international cultural icon.

“It’s great to see such a significant gathering of representatives from the UK’s top attractions, and for cultural and non-cultural sectors to be working together to raise awareness of their attractions and to improve the experience they offer visitors.”

Robin Broke, Director of ALVA, said;

“We are very much looking forward to the council meeting and dinner at Edinburgh Castle, and to experiencing Scotland’s most popular paid-for attraction. At the meeting we will potentially welcome three more organisations into our membership which will take our total members to 42 iconic tourism sites around Britain.

“The Glasgow Museums will be rejoining with the recently refurbished Kelvingrove Museum. The Royal Horticultural Society and the 750 acre Trentham Estate at Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire, which is home to Britain’s largest indoor and outdoor garden centre, also hope to join. We confidently expect a positive vote on these applications from our current members.”

The dinner hosted by Linda Fabiani MSP will take place on Wednesday 14 May 2008, ahead of the ALVA council meeting on Thursday 15 May 2008.

Notes for editors

Edinburgh Castle is one of 345 heritage properties and sites from the Highlands and Islands to the Borders, in the care of Historic Scotland.  Ranging from prehistoric dwellings to medieval castles, and from cathedrals to industrial buildings, these include some of the leading tourism attractions in the country. In addition to Edinburgh Castle, some of the most popular are Stirling and Urquhart Castles, Skara Brae, and the Border Abbeys. For further details visit: www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/places

Edinburgh Castle, built on the 340 million-year-old remains of an extinct volcano, dominates the Scottish capital city’s skyline just as it has dominated Scotland’s history.  The ‘stronghold of Eidyn’ was first recorded before 600AD and by the Middle Ages, it had become a mighty fortification and the favoured royal residence of Scotland’s kings and queens.  Many defining moments of Scottish history have taken place there. In 1140, the castle became the first recorded meeting place of the assembly we now know as the Scottish Parliament.  In 1566, it was the birthplace of the only child of Mary Queen of Scots; a son who grew up to unite the crowns of Scotland and England. And in 1689, it endured its last full siege when the garrison became the last defenders of the Stewart king James VII and II.

Highlights of the castle tour are:
  1. The Honours of Scotland – the nation’s crown jewels.
  2. The Stone of Destiny – the coronation stone of the ancient kings of Scots.
  3. The Great Hall, Laich Hall, King’s Dining Room and St Margaret’s Chapel some of the remarkable medieval rooms and buildings where kings, queens and great nobles wined, dined and worshipped.
  4. The Prisons of War Experience – thousands of military prisoners were held in the castle over the centuries. There is now a major recreation of what it was like at the end of the 18th century.
  5. The Scottish National War Memorial - an impressive building commemorating those who have died in conflict from World War I onwards. There is the National War Museum and two other military museums at the castle.
  6. Mons Meg – a huge medieval siege gun that fired stones weighing 150kg (330lbs) for 3.2km (two miles).
  7. The One O’clock Gun – fired daily, except the Sabbath and certain holidays, as a time signal.
  8. The Dog Cemetery – the last resting place of regimental mascots and the faithful friends of many officers.

Historic Scotland’s mission is to safeguard Scotland’s historic environment and to promote its understanding and enjoyment.

For further information


Laura Adamson
PR Executive
Marketing and Media
0131 668 8959 or 07769 630 763
laura.adamson@scotland.gsi.gov.uk