Visits to Scotland’s main tourist attractions increased by 1.7 million last year, according to new research conducted by Glasgow Caledonian University’s (GCU) Moffat Centre for Travel and Tourism Business Development.
The research undertaken finds visitor numbers rose to more than 55 million, up 3.3 per cent in 2014.
The survey of 687 tourist sites found the most popular destinations in Scotland were free admission attractions, which welcomed more than twice as many visitors as those with entry fees.
The National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh was the number one free attraction in 2014 with more than 1,639,509 visitors, followed by the Scotland National Gallery in Edinburgh, Lomond Shores, and Kelvingrove Art Gallery and the Riverside Museum both in Glasgow.
Historic Scotland’s Edinburgh Castle was, once again, the most popular paid attraction with 1,480,676 visitors in 2014, up 4.3 per cent compared to 2013.
Top paid attractions in Scotland included Edinburgh Zoo, Edinburgh Bus Tours, Stirling Castle and Glasgow’s Science Centre.
Success stories include Glasgow’s Riverside Museum, which saw visitor numbers rise by 41.8 per cent between 2013 and 2014 to 1,049,834 visitors, and the Helix in Falkirk, which in its first year welcomed an estimated 800,000 visitors, resulting in a knock-on effect in the local area and an increase of 26.4 per cent of visitors to the Falkirk Wheel.
Professor John Lennon, director of the Moffat Centre for Travel and Tourism Business Development at GCU, said: “2014 proved to be a winning year with visitor attractions enjoying the profile Scotland gained internationally as a result of key events such as the Commonwealth Games, the Ryder Cup, and Homecoming 2014.
“Many operators also saw positive impacts from the anniversaries associated with the First World War, which served to heighten Scotland’s profile and destination awareness, nationally and internationally.”