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Minister congratulates Borders attractions on being a 'five-star' region

24 September 2009


Melrose Abbey has been declared one of Scotland’s top-class visitor attractions.

Independent quality assurance inspectors from VisitScotland have granted it the coveted five-star status after examining every aspect of the visitor experience.  This means the three staffed Borders Abbeys cared for by Historic Scotland, and Smailholm Tower, are all now five-star attractions.

Minister for Culture, External Affairs and the Constitution, Michael Russell, said:  “You can’t get better than five star, so this is a brilliant achievement by the staff at Melrose.  It now means that all Historic Scotland paid attractions in the Borders are of five star status.  All the staff at the attractions have worked very hard to get and to keep this level of quality across the region.  This is a great achievement for the staff locally, for the heritage agency overall and something we can be very proud of.”

“Melrose Abbey has a lot to celebrate this year as its visitor figures for the year so far have jumped by 15.6% compared to 2008 – an absolutely tremendous performance.”

Between April and the end of August the abbey attracted 33,558 visitors compared to 29,025.  Historic Scotland had a significant campaign earlier this year which offered a special price for membership especially for the Year of Homecoming 2009.  The campaign proved an enormous success due, the agency believe, to many people looking for value for money family days out.  Melrose Abbey may be benefiting from this extra emphasis on value from recession pressured families.

The abbey had previously been a four-star attraction, but was able to push up its rating thanks to the introduction of new and more modern information boards, material and information for visitors.

Notes for editors

  • VisitScotland has operated a quality assurance inspection scheme for visitor attractions since 1995.  The scheme gives an independent quality assurance award and incorporates the inspection of properties for Thistle tourist signposting. There are five quality grades for the standard of facilities and services following the assessment of the appropriate areas. The grades are represented by 1-5 stars, and convey the following standards:

           *****     Exceptional, world-class

           ****      Excellent

           ***       Very Good

           **        Good

           *          Fair and acceptable

  • Inspectors look at five areas which are pre-arrival (including brochures, leaflets and parking), arrival (which covers issues like décor and the appearance of staff), the presentation of the site, the quality of the retail outlet and the toilet facilities. To earn five-star status a site must get 85% or better in the arrival and presentation categories, plus at least two of the others.

  • The abbey is in Melrose off the A7 or A68. Ring 01896 822562.

  • Tickets are £5.20 for adults, £4.20 for concessions and £2.60 for children.

  • Historic Scotland has 345 outstanding historic properties and sites in its care. These include some of the leading tourism attractions in the country, including Edinburgh, Stirling, and Urquhart castles, Fort George, Linlithgow Palace, the Border Abbeys, and Skara Brae. For further details visit:

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

  • Historic Scotland is delighted to be supporting the 2009 Year of Homecoming with a series of initiatives including family trails, spectacular events and the creation of a Homecoming Pass for heritage attractions in association with other heritage organisations.

For further information

Rebecca Hamilton
Marketing and Media Manager
Marketing and Media
0131 668 8685 / 07788 923871