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Historic Scotland attractions have best April to September on record

16 December 2010

Historic Scotland attractions have had their best season on record. The government agency today (16th December) issued figures from 1st April until 30th September, which saw 2,463,461 visitors through the doors of a Historic Scotland ticketed property during this period. This exceeds the agency’s previous best performance at this stage (2006-07) by almost 5,000 visitors.

Each of Historic Scotland’s top three sites, Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle and Urquhart Castle, experienced increased growth during this period. Edinburgh Castle, Scotland’s number one paid for tourist attraction, saw a particularly strong season, with September alone seeing a record breaking month for visitors, up 12% on the previous year.

Fiona Hyslop, MSP, Minister for Culture and External Affairs, said;

“Scotland’s leading heritage attractions are performing remarkably well and I am delighted that Historic Scotland’s properties have recorded such excellent visitor numbers, in a challenging economic climate.  These figures are testament to the world-class quality of the visitor experience that Scotland has to offer – and to the efforts of staff to promote the properties and to encourage and ensure visitors enjoy all that they represent and provide.”

“These figures are particularly impressive given the widespread impact on the tourism industry of the ash cloud in April, with attractions that draw a large international audience most affected. To recover from such a situation so quickly and go on to experience a record breaking season illustrates the hard work of all those in the sector and its continued importance in delivering for the wider tourism market and for Scotland.”

Throughout the period, the agency benefited from an increase in travel trade visitors, membership and walk up visits. There has also been an upward trend in tourists from the Far East, as well as sustained growth from continental and eastern Europe, which has been supported by an increase in the number of direct flights into Scotland.

Historic Scotland’s Head of Commercial and Visitor Operations Stephen Duncan said;  

“We’re committed to offering visitors great value, as well as a truly memorable experience, and the success of a number of key initiatives prove that the public response to that has been very positive.  Our Travel Trade products, such as Explorer Pass tickets, and web ticket sales have grown by more than 30% over the first half of the year compared to the same period last year.

“Our membership numbers remain at an all time high of 114,386 – up 11% on last year –  reflecting the superb value for money the Historic Scotland membership scheme offers.  We’ve also recorded strong performances in several key commercial areas. For example, our latest weddings income figures are 6% ahead of last year and our retail takings were 5% above last year’s, so we are enjoying a strong performance across the board which we hope to build on for the second half of the year.”

Historic Scotland runs 78 ticketed visitor attractions across Scotland, from Edinburgh Castle through to the Neolithic village of Skara Brae on Orkney. For more information please visit

Notes for Editors

  • 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.

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

For further information

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