The capital continues to dominate the country’s tourism market with ten of the top 20 most popular attractions, according to the latest visitor statistics.
The two main crowd-drawing sites – the National Museum of Scotland and Edinburgh Castle – have each attracted more than two million visits, only the second time a tourist attraction in Scotland has passed the milestone. two million.
The National Museum of Scotland retained the top spot in the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions (ASVA) survey and saw its numbers rise by 2.9% to 2,227,773 last year.
The castle followed closely with 2,111,578 visitors, up 2.3%, making it Scotland’s most popular paid attraction.
The Scottish National Gallery saw one of the biggest increases in visitor numbers, up 8.6% to 1,739,128.
And visitors to St. Giles Cathedral rose 3.5% to 1,330,816.
Dr Gordon Rintoul, Director of National Museums Scotland, said: “It is great that ASVA’s latest visitor figures have once again confirmed the National Museum of Scotland as the most popular visitor attraction. from Scotland. In addition, we recorded the highest number of visitors ever recorded on all our sites with more than 3.2 million visits. It has been a busy year for the Museum with the hugely popular exhibitions, Rip It Up: The History of Scottish Pop and Glass Art and a packed program of activities, including a Q&A session with Astronaut Tim Peake as he unveiled his Soyuz spacecraft exhibit. , Science Festival events and workshops, and the sold-out Fringe showcase, Museum After Hours.
“This month we have just completed the 15-year, £80 million transformation of the National Museum of Scotland with the opening of three new galleries dedicated to our exceptional collections of ceramics, ancient Egyptian materials and East Asia and we look forward to welcoming visitors. to these over the coming year.
The Royal Botanic Garden remained in seventh place in the attractions table, but numbers fell by 8.6%.
The National War Museum at the castle, ranked eighth, increased its number of visitors by 4.5% to 798,165.
And Edinburgh Bus Tours attracted 702,235 visitors, up 1.8% on the previous year.
The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art saw its workforce drop by 5.9%.
Visitors to Edinburgh Zoo fell by 8.4%, but the Corstorphine attraction still attracted more than half a million.
And the number of visitors to the Royal Yacht Britannia in Leith was almost unchanged at 390,848.
ASVA said 232 sites across the country recorded more than 30 million visits, an increase of 0.1% from 2017. This follows increases of 9.7% in 2017 and 6 % in 2016.
He noted a continued “Outlander” effect with numbers rising at many sites featured in the cult TV series and others with Jacobite connections.
Distilleries and whiskey-related attractions performed well, including a 2% increase in visitors to the Scotch Whiskey Experience in Edinburgh.
Culture and Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “It is fantastic to see the success of ASVA’s iconic tourist sites attracting over 30 million visits in 2018.
“However, with the continued uncertainty of leaving the EU, the Scottish Government recognizes that we cannot take the success of tourism for granted. We will continue to work to support the sustainable growth of the industry as it creates jobs, stimulates the local and national economy and builds on our strong international reputation.
Gordon Morrison, Managing Director of ASVA, said: “While reporting only a modest increase in visitor numbers, it is worth remembering that 2017 was an exceptional year. To report even a modest increase in visitor numbers in 2018 is therefore a great achievement for the industry.