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Edinburgh Castle retains its position as Scotland's number one paid for visitor attraction

5 March 2012

Edinburgh Castle has retained its position as Scotland’s number one paid for visitor attraction.

The figures were released today (Monday, 5th March) by the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA). The association is made up of some of the UK’s leading heritage attractions including The Victoria and Albert Museum, the Tower of London and Edinburgh Castle, whose members release their visitor figures annually.

The castle, which is run by Historic Scotland, saw 1,302,826 visitors go through its doors in 2011, an 8% increase on the previous year. The figures follow on the back of a hugely successful year for the Castle which saw it record its highest ever numbers of visitors on record in July and August and finish the year as ’Best UK Heritage Attraction’ at the British Travel Awards.

The upturn in visitor numbers was also reflected at Historic Scotland’s other submitted properties, Stirling Castle and Urquhart Castle. Stirling Castle, which recently re-opened its palace apartments to the public after a £12 million restoration to return the apartments to how they may have looked at the time of a young Mary, Queen of Scots saw increases of 15%, taking visitor numbers to 433,394 whilst Urquhart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness saw a 10% rise to 315,911.

Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop said;

“2011 was a fantastic year for the heritage sector, with Edinburgh Castle retaining its position as Scotland’s number one paid for tourist attraction and Stirling Castle and Urquhart Castle all enjoying growth.

“Highlights from the last 12 months include Edinburgh Castle experiencing its best ever July and August on record, the opening of the palace project at Stirling and Urquhart Castle recording over 300,000 visitors in one season for the first time, reinforcing the hugely important role of our built heritage in making Scotland a ‘must see’ destination.”

Stephen Duncan, Director of Commercial and Tourism for Historic Scotland said;

“Edinburgh Castle continues to enthral a new generation of visitors and we are continuing to invest in the castle experience.

“This ranges from making the ticketing process easier, to investing in our retail offering and interpretation of the sites with more costumed performances than ever before.

“We are also gearing up for another busy summer, working with partners to welcome the Edinburgh Military Tattoo on the esplanade in August and offering a fantastic concert venue for artists such as Noel Gallagher and Olly Murs.”

Ends 5th March

Notes for editors:

  • 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

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  • The Year of Creative Scotland begins on January 1, 2012 and will spotlight and celebrate Scotland’s cultural and creative strengths on a world stage. Through a dynamic and exciting year-long programme of activity celebrating our world-class events, festivals, culture and heritage, the year puts Scotland’s culture and creativity in the international spotlight with a focus on cultural tourism and developing the events industry and creative sector in Scotland. More information about the programme can be found at: The Year of Creative Scotland is a Scottish Government initiative led in partnership by EventScotland, VisitScotland, Creative Scotland and VOCAL.

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For further information

Iona Matheson
Communications and Media Officer
Communications and Media
0131 668 8703 or 07827 956 858