Scotland’s leading attractions outperform rest of UK in 2015

The National Galleries of Scotland brought in 2.1 million visitors last year. Picture: Greg Macvean
The National Galleries of Scotland brought in 2.1 million visitors last year. Picture: Greg Macvean
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Scotland’s leading visitor attractions outperformed the rest of the UK last year, even boasting a bigger average rise than London’s most popular sites.

Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Botanic Garden in the capital. the Scottish National Gallery, the Kelvingrove and Riverside museums in Glasgow and the Falkirk Wheel were among the best performers north of the Border.

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 latter attraction in the capital, the most popular museum in the UK outside London, brought in more visitors than the National Maritime Museum, Tate Britain, London Zoo and the Eden Project. Edinburgh 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, 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 of the UK’s attractions today, said:“The current weakness of the pound to the 
dollar and euro is making the UK a more affordable destination.”