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Three million head to Historic Scotland attractions

15 March 2010

The Minister welcomes Joyce Churchill from Nova Scotia, the three millionth visitor and first time visitor to Scotland.
The Minister welcomes Joyce Churchill from Nova Scotia, the three millionth visitor and first time visitor to Scotland.

Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop welcomed the three millionth visitor to go through the doors of one of Historic Scotland’s ticketed attractions in the 2009 – 2010 season.

Historic Scotland manages 345 properties on behalf of Scottish Ministers across the country.  During the Summer season, Historic Scotland’s Top 10 sites enjoyed a 9% increase on this time last year, with visitor numbers growing by 7% overall.  Edinburgh Castle was up by 8% during this period, Urquhart Castle’s number of visitors increased by 9% whereas Stirling Castle’s numbers were up by 6%, during a major refurbishment for the Palace project.

The Minister presented Joyce Churchill, 76, from Nova Scotia, a first time visitor to Scotland, with a quaich, Scotland’s cup of friendship, at Edinburgh Castle, its flagship property, to mark the occasion.

The Minister said: “This has been a wonderful year for our sites, with growth in visitor numbers across our estates.  The rich variety of history presented through our castles, abbeys, pre-historic settlements and other places is a key reason why Scotland is such an attractive holiday destination.  Overseas visitors can explore Scotland’s wonderful culture and heritage and Scots can discover where we have come from.

“The Year of Homecoming 2009 saw an increase in visitors with Edinburgh Castle continuing to be Scotland’s top paid for tourist attraction with over a million visitors a year.  It plays a vital role in attracting visitors from around the world and contributing to Scotland’s multi million pound tourism sector.  

“The strength of the Euro and increased flight routes from European destinations have also helped generate overseas visitors, however it is really encouraging to see an increase in visitor numbers during such a tough economic climate.  It is very important that we continue to offer visitors value for money and the highest quality service.”

Joyce Churchill said: “This is the first time I have been to Scotland.  I came to London to see my son graduate and he gave me the choice of flying to Scotland or Paris.  I chose Scotland as I have always wanted to come here. I am flying back to Canada tomorrow and am thrilled that I was the three millionth visitor!  This is an added highlight  to a wonderful trip!”

Notes for editors

Historic Scotland’s Top 10 properties are:

  1. Edinburgh Castle
  2. Stirling Castle
  3. Urquhart Castle
  4. Linlithgow Palace
  5. St Andrews Castle
  6. Fort George
  7. Caerlaverock Castle
  8. Melrose Abbey
  9. Skara Brae
  10. Iona Abbey

78 properties in Historic Scotland’s care are admission-based and the rest are free entry.  Historic Scotland’s properties in care include some of the country’s leading visitor attractions such as Edinburgh, Stirling and Urquhart Castles, Fort George, Linlithgow Palace and Skara Brae.

Historic Scotland was a key partner in the Year of Homecoming 2009 activities.  Membership numbers hit an all time high of 100,000 last year at the height of Homecoming.

Historic Scotland offered visitors 18 months membership for the price of 12 which was well subscribed and ran a number of large scale events across its portfolio to enhance the visitor experience. It developed 15 family trails, a ‘Following in Your Family Footsteps’ publication and a large online resource, a special joint ticket with other operators, as well as hundreds of events and performances.  In addition we continued to run price promotions, free weekends and various ticketing options across our sites.


  • Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament. For more information visit www.historic-scotland.gov.uk



For further information


Jennifer Johnston-Watt
Communications and Media Officer
Communications and Media
0131 668 8070 or 07827 956866
jennifer.johnstonwatt@scotland.gsi.gov.uk