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Why are so many tourists coming to Scotland?

For the 6th year in a row Scotland has successfully outperformed the rest of UK in attracting in attracting visitors to its tourist attractions.  

Edinburgh is the top UK destination outside of London, but the whole country itself it benefitting from a surge in tourism. There’s certainly a tourist renaissance, this therefore leads us to the ultimate question of why is Scotland outperforming the rest of the UK.

1. Bright Light and Big Cities 

Statistically, research has shown that it's the bigger cities that are the driving force behind the appeal and attraction of tourists. In 2017, London attracted 64 million visitors, so it’s absolutely no surprise that boasts the UK’s top 10 visitor attractions, however the 11th and 12th slots were both in the city of Edinburgh, with the National Museum of Scotland  and Edinburgh Castle for the first time ranking up more than 2 million visits in 2017. According to the director of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, Bernard Donoghue people have long wanted to come here, but new air routes and the fall in the value of sterling are aiding the cause. He states that "The UK and Scotland in particular is an aspirational destination," and "It's on practically everybody's shopping list – they want to come here at some point. New air routes and Scotland becoming more affordable has made that more of an opportunity."He also believes that the Scotland is soaring in terms of the number of visitors to its attractions due to money spent on its major attractions, an example being the galleries in the National Museum of Scotland all being open after years of refurbishment.  In Glasgow, the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and the Riverside Museum  welcomed more than 1.3 million visitors last year. However it wasn’t just the larger attractions that gained a great number of visitors in the cities, smaller run attractions also benefited  The Real Mary King's Close in Edinburgh saw its numbers rise 9% to more than 245,000.  On 15th September 2018, the much anticipated opening


2. North Coast 500

Over a decade ago, the North Coast 500 was very much a secret barely anybody knew of the beautiful scenic route. But now it has been cleverly marketed as one of the world's great road trips.

The roads are busier now, with tourist buses and campervans being a  common sight, creating booming business. After its launch in 2015,one study estimated the North Coast 500 attracted an extra 29,000 visitors to the region, generating an astounding  £9 million in revenue. Bernard Donaghue says "Things like the North Coast 500 are fantastic at getting people to move away from the central belt and explore parts of Scotland they might not have previously considered.” Due to the success of the North Coast 500, many of the attractions dotted across the route have benefitted, an example of one is  Inverewe Gardens in Wester Ross, where there is a variety of exotic plants and ancient trees saw its visitors increase by 110% in 2017.


3. The Outlander Effect

When a popular tv series is set in Scotland, the tourism industry are extremely savvy when it comes to this. They know that tv series’ can draw in visitors from all over the glove hoping to trace the footsteps of their favourite characters. Currently Scotland is cashing in on the success of Outlander. Outlander tells the story of a 1940’s nurse,who is transported back in time to the Jacobite rebellions of 1743 in the Scottish Highlands. The series has gained a worldwide following. But one thing for sure is the fact that there's no shortage of small tour operators ready to guide them around filming locations or sites steeped in the history of the period. The Glenfinnan Monument dedicated to the fallen Jacobite clansmen saw a 58% increase in visitor numbers last year, reaching nearly 400,000. Nearby is another film tourism opportunity – the Glenfinnan Viaduct, made famous by the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter films.  The popularity of these landmarks is only set to increase.


4. Getting the Message Across

The tourism industry can be vulnerable to international events, notbaly 2016 was a challenging year due terrorist attacks in France and Belgium thought to have been behind a deficit in visitors coming from Europe. However once global concern dimmed, VisitScotland were determined and wanted to make Scotland a high priority of many. The Tourism insight manager at VisitScotland Chris Greenwood said that the 2017 focus was on history, heritage and archaeology.

When visitors think about Scotland, they think about landscape, they think about heritage and culture," he explained. "And they think about the people, the warmth of welcome.

This is backed up through the media, if you think about films and television programmes about Scotland, Outlander for example. With this theme there was a consistent marketing of heritage and attractions and also the history as well. There was a strong product presentation that was very appealing to visitors.

He also retains the belief that Scotland’s tourist industry must remain focused and determined if they are reap this success for years to come..


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