Rain and Olympics blamed for drop in visitors to Scotland’s historic sites
VISITOR numbers at some of Scotland’s most historic attractions plummeted over the summer as the nation was battered by bad weather, The Scotsman has discovered.
Figures released by Historic Scotland show its visitor numbers fell by 8 per cent across its estate between April and September.
Edinburgh and Stirling castles were down 9 per cent, Urquhart Castle was down 8 per cent and Linlithgow Palace 13 per cent. The agency blamed the “wettest summer in 100 years” for the decline, which has come after three years of growth.
The overall number of visitors was down to 2.4 million from 2.6 million – a drop of more than 200,000 across the six-month period – across its 78 main attractions.
The National Trust for Scotland (NTS) has reported a 13 per cent decline in its visitor numbers for its peak season, down to 1.45 million.
Both the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum and Culzean Castle, in Ayrshire, were down significantly, by 17 and 5.6 per cent respectively. Bannockburn saw a 5.3 per cent drop, while Crathes Castle was 3.7 per cent down.
The Scotsman revealed earlier this week how tourism figures were reporting business down by as much as 30 per cent for the year to date.
The number of overnight stays by UK visitors fell by about 9 per cent across Scotland for the first half of the year, with spending from “day visitors” down 30 per cent, even though the number of visits was up 5 per cent. Last month, the Met Office revealed that 366.8mm of rain fell across the UK over the summer – the most since 1912.
It was also one of the dullest summers on record with just 413 hours of sunshine. There had been high hopes for the Scottish tourism industry this summer – thanks to the launch of new Disney-Pixar film Brave, which is set in the Highlands.
The Scottish Government and VisitScotland ploughed an extra £7 million into a high-profile campaign – launched to coincide with the film’s world premiere in Los Angeles in June – to capitalise on the film.
However, Historic Scotland said it was too early to say what impact the film had had on its visitor numbers.
A spokeswoman said: “Like other UK visitor attractions we have seen a downturn in our visitors and our income this summer with a decrease in visitors of 8 per cent from April to the end of September in comparison with the same time this year.
“This has been due to the Olympics and the Paralympics, which led to a displacement in the travel trade coming to Scotland via London, the wettest summer in 100 years and the recession.
“We believe that the film Brave, which has been very popular, will attract visitors to come to Scotland to see the real historic sites which inspired the film.”
A spokeswoman for NTS added: “Across the whole of our estate, numbers are a bit mixed.
“Clearly our outdoors places like Ben Lomond have been impacted by the weather.
“Our understanding is that this is the picture across heritage and visitor attractions across the country.”
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Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 19 June 2013
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