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Scotland’s most-visited attractions revealed – Business Insider

by Staff

The most-visited free attraction in Scotland continued to be the National Museum of Scotland, which was the 12th most popular across the whole of the UK, with an 11% increase in visitors last year to 2,186,841.

It was followed by Edinburgh Castle, which was the most visited paid for attraction in Scotland and the 14th most popular nationwide, with a 41% increase to 1,904,723 visits. The National Galleries Scotland’s National Gallery also had a record-breaking year – with a 44% increase to 1,836,057 – attributed to its Grayson Perry exhibition and the opening of the new Scottish galleries.

The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) visitor figures for 2023 were released during Scottish Tourism Month.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum saw a 32% increase and 1,283,882 visitors last year – seeing it move to 25th place nationally. One place below was Riverside Museum, in 26th place, with 1,265,011 visitors.

The most popular outdoor attraction in Scotland was Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, that saw a 4% increase, with 1,041,391 visits.

The Gallery of Modern Art moved 40 places to 70th with 510,936 visits, which it attributed to the Banksy’s Cut and Run exhibition, which ran for 10 weeks, closing on 28 August.

Both Stirling Castle and Urquhart Castle saw visitor numbers increase 24% year-on-year, with Stirling Castle seeing 517,299 visits and Urquhart Castle welcoming 442,761 visitors.

The total number of visits to ALVA sites in 2023 was 146.6m, which was a 19% increase on the previous year, but still represented a decline of 11% on the 163.9m visits in pre-pandemic 2019 to the top 374 ALVA sites.

Indoor attractions saw a 23% increase in visitors, compared to a 2% increase in Outdoor attractions.

“Whilst the extension of tax relief for museums, theatres and galleries was a very welcome announcement in the recent Budget, there was a missed opportunity to reintroduce tax free shopping for overseas visitors, which would have improved the UK’s international competitiveness, and reduce VAT for tourism and hospitality which would have helped businesses repair their balance sheets.”

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