MORE people visited the National Museum of Scotland last year than London Zoo and Tate Britain, it has emerged.
The most popular museum in the UK outside London, it also brought in more visitors than the National Maritime Museum and the Eden Project, new figures released today show.
Overall, Scotland’s leading visitor attractions outperformed the rest of the UK in 2015.
Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Botanic Garden in the Capital, the city’s Scottish National Gallery, the Kelvingrove and Riverside museums in Glasgow and the Falkirk Wheel were among the best performers north of the Border, said the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions.
Scotland’s leading attractions boasted an average increase of 5.48 per cent last year, compared to 3.2 per cent across the UK and 1.61 per cent in London.
Both Edinburgh Castle and the National Museum of Scotland made it into the UK top 20, with a combined audience of more than three million between them.
The Castle, which has overtaken the National Museum to become Scotland’s busiest attraction, enjoyed a six per cent rise in visitors, notching up a record 1.59 million people.
“However, its numbers were dwarfed by the 2.1 million visitors who flocked to the three main National Galleries of Scotland sites in Edinburgh, including the Scottish National Gallery, which is about to undergo a major overhaul.
Kelvingrove and the Riverside were up 12.4 per cent and 7.8 respectively, while the Botanics was up 10.2 per cent.
In sharp contrast to the performance of Scotland’s main attractions, the Natural History Museum, the Southbank Centre, Tate Modern, Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London all suffered a drop in visitors in 2015.
Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, said: “These really are spectacular results for Scotland’s leading attractions and it is wonderful to see this country performing above the UK average.
“Our attractions play a vital role in Scotland’s visitor economy, with accommodation providers, restaurants, cafes and numerous other businesses also reaping the benefits of this continued growth.”
Bernard Donoghue, director of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, which published the annual league table today, said tourists’ search for value was bringing more people here.
He said: “The current weakness of the pound to the dollar and euro is making the UK a more affordable destination.”