Royal Yacht Britannia on crest of a wave as visitor numbers increase

Royal Yacht Britannia. Picture: Greg Macvean
Royal Yacht Britannia. Picture: Greg Macvean
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THE ROYAL Yacht Britannia has steamed ahead of other city attractions, announcing its highest visitor numbers in a decade.

It comes as VisitScotland reported a 12 per cent downturn in tourist numbers across the country between July and September last year.

Visitor numbers to Britannia proved more than buoyant, with a five per cent rise on 2011.

The charitable trust that manages the vessel attributed the boost in business to a variety of factors, including the Queen’s diamond jubilee, when Britannia’s royal barge and escort boats led the Thames jubilee pageant on 3 June.

However, elsewhere in the Capital, figures had not remained as strong, with Historic Scotland and the Camera Obscura reporting numbers down by 10 per cent.

News of the poor figures came as Edinburgh has been named as a top 10 destination for 2013.

Travel community Gogobot put the Capital in third place, the only UK city to make it onto the list, above US destinations such as San Antonio and New Orleans.

According to the Office for National Statistics, the number of nights travellers spent in Scotland between July and September fell by more than 100,000 – or 12 per cent – on the same period in 2011.

The amount they spent also dropped by about £50 million.

Chief executive of the nautical attraction, Bob Downie, said: “2012 was the best year that Britannia has had since her opening year in 1998, with visitor numbers bucking the trend experienced elsewhere in Scotland, something that we attribute to our passion for consistently delivering an outstanding customer experience.”

Historic Scotland, which operates Edinburgh Castle, put down the drop to the wettest year on record and the recession.

A spokeswoman said: “Like other UK visitor attractions, we saw a downturn, with a decrease in visitors to our attractions of 10 per cent from July to the end of September in comparison with the same period in 2011.”

Camera Obscura also reported a drop in visitor numbers of about 10 per cent.

A spokesman said the drop had been anticipated ahead of the Olympic Games, adding there were strong ticket sales in the Easter and autumn periods.

VisitScotland chairman Mike Cantlay said: “It is encouraging to see that Scottish tourism has continued to perform well over the past year, in part due to a strong start to 2012, but it has undoubtedly been a challenging summer.

“However, given the wet weather and the economic problems being experienced around the world, these figures could have been considerably worse.

“We also witnessed the astonishing success of the Olympics, an event that attracted a number of Scotland’s prospective visitors to London and kept domestic visitors at home.”

TRAVEL community Gogobot’s top 10 up and coming destinations for 2013

The website, which has 2.5 million users, rates destinations based on reviews submitted by its members.

1: Moscow, Russia

2: San Antonio, Texas, United States

3: Edinburgh, Scotland

4: Kyoto, Japan

5: Salt Lake City, Utah, US

6: Brussels, Belgium

7: Helsinki, Finland

8: Athens, Greece

9: New Orleans, US

10: Hobart, Australia