Capital attractions make most of the wet weather

Indoor attractions have reaped the benefit of Scotland's soggy summer

Indoor attractions have reaped the benefit of Scotland's soggy summer

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IT might have been one of the wettest months on record, but it seems the Capital’s summer has not been a washout for 
everyone.

While high-profile outdoor events such as Taste of Edinburgh were swept away by recent downpours, the wet weather has actually helped to boost visitor numbers at several top attractions.

The Camera Obscura and St Giles’ Cathedral were among those reporting record visitor figures for the last months as torrential rain drove visitors indoors.

While outdoor attractions such as Edinburgh Castle are expecting to see visitor numbers fall as a result of the rain, Edinburgh Zoo revealed that the weather had not been able to dampen the spirits of tourist eager to see the UK’s only giant pandas.

As well has having almost double the average rainfall expected at this time of year, it emerged on Tuesday that so far this month Edinburgh only enjoyed half the hours of sunshine it saw in January.

The Camera Obscura announced its busiest July day ever. Spokesman Andrew Johnson told the Evening News: “On Monday we had 1250 paying customers and 1327 people in total – children under five get in for free.

“That was also our second busiest day ever. On Easter Saturday we had 1267 people paying in.

“We’ve had a record year, and at the moment we’re nine per cent up on 2011.”

St Giles’ Cathedral also reported record figures for both May and June, with more than 10,000 extra visitors year-on-year in each.

Veronika Kallus, visitor services manager at St Giles’, said: “We’ve had record numbers – 92,000 visitors in May and 102,000 in June, following another fantastic year in 2011.

“The weather has definitely had an effect. Not only are we getting more visitors, but they are coming in at more varied times of the day and staying for longer too.”

A spokesman for the city council said that, based on its end of June figures for museums and galleries, visitor numbers across the city were up an average of 20 per cent year on year.

Two attractions seeing significant rises were the Scott Monument, which saw a 25 per cent increase in visitors, and the Nelson Monument, which saw footfall rise by a third.

The National Galleries of Scotland also confirmed it had seen a slight increase in visitor numbers since the start of the summer, while Craig Miller, general manager of the Real Mary King’s Close, told the Evening News it was having a “very strong July”.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the wettest Scottish summers on record did not have the same effect on many outdoor attractions in the Capital.

A spokeswoman for Historic Scotland said: “We had a fantastic start to June at Edinburgh Castle, with record visitor numbers over the diamond jubilee weekend. Visitor numbers were down by one per cent at Edinburgh Castle in comparison with June last year and Craigmillar Castle saw a rise of seven per cent. However, we are aware that numbers for July are likely be disappointing due to the extreme weather.”

A spokesperson for the Five Sisters Zoo in West Calder added: “The first week in July was worse than normal due to the weather. It’s been getting better but we’re still not as busy as if it were dry.”

However, Edinburgh Zoo reported visitor numbers over the summer were actually up on last year, for two big reasons.

Laura Condie, head of visitor services, said: “Scotland has certainly been getting its fair share of wet weather recently, but at Edinburgh Zoo our figures are very much up on the same period in 2011 – you can’t underestimate the lure of a giant panda.”