Scotland sees the Commonwealth Games effect with a 9.98% increase in visitor numbers

Press release   •   Mar 16, 2015 09:48 GMT

The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) announced its members' visitor figures for 2014 today (Monday, March 16, 2015), which saw an average increase of 6.5% on 2013 visitor numbers. Scottish attractions had the greatest increase of almost 10% increase, followed by London with an increase of 7.11%.

The Commonwealth Games and its Cultural Programme saw Glasgow’s Attractions achieve some of the largest increases with Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum having a 7.5% increase, while the Riverside Museum saw a 41.8% increase, Gallery of Modern Art (8.8%) and the People’s Palace 22.5%. The Commonwealth Games didn't just fly the flag for Glasgow but drew visitors to Scotland’s attractions - the National Museum of Scotland was not only the most visited free attraction in Scotland with 1,639,509 visitors but was the most visited museum outside of London. Edinburgh Castle was the most visited paid-for attraction outside London with 1,480,676 visitors resulting in a 4% increase. 2014 was an exceptional year for the National Galleries of Scotland – seeing a 39% increase (1,295,015) at the Scottish National Gallery, this was due in part to a strong programme of exhibitions led by GENERATION: 25 Years of Contemporary Art in Scotland which was extremely popular with both international and local visitors.

Bernard Donoghue, Director of ALVA, commented: “Scotland’s impressive visitor figures – which outperform the rest of the UK - are proof of the need for, and of the successful investment strategy by the Scottish Government, local government and the Heritage Lottery Fund in investing in Tourism – Scotland’s most important industry.”

The glorious summer continued for the second year to have an effect on Outdoor Attractions in Scotland, with a 7.88% increase (compared to 4.92% in the whole of the UK) - notably, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh saw an 18.5% increase and Urquhart Castle saw a 6% rise. Meanwhile, a series of Homecoming events, including an exhibition of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce letters helped drive visitor numbers to Stirling Castle which rose by 7%.

The British Museum remained the most popular visitor attraction overall for the 8th year running with 6,695,213 visitors and remaining in 2nd place was the National Gallery, which saw a 6.4% increase to 6,416,724. Included in the numbers for the first time was the Southbank Centre – who saw 6,255,799 visitors – securing them the position in 3rd place*.

Museums & Galleries throughout the UK saw an 6.09% increase, however in Scotland, the increase was 11.58%.

Bernard Donoghue noted: “ALVA is celebrating its 25th Anniversary in 2015 and I am delighted that our members figures are going from strength to strength – reflecting the significant role they play in the economy.

“As we approach the General Election we want to remind all political parties that no party mentioned Tourism in their last General Election manifesto, however these figures clearly demonstrate the popularity of our best loved attractions and the importance of Tourism to the UK and to the Scottish economy – with it being the UK’s 5th biggest industry and 3rd largest employer, generating £127 billion per year. I look forward to seeing all political parties spell out their strong support and ambitions for Tourism, Heritage, and Arts & Culture in their forthcoming manifestos.”

He continued; “Looking forward to our 2015 figures, we are confident that they will rise again with the anticipated increase in overseas visitors this year, but we can also tell from membership and Friends schemes that the Brits are voting for tourism with their feet and wallets. Our members continue to develop and push the boundaries with more ground-breaking and innovative exhibitions, which will attract record numbers such as Lee Miller and Picasso at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery from May 23, to Dinosaurs Return! Discover a lost world, which opens at Edinburgh Zoo in April.

For further information on ALVA and to download images, please visit:

Twitter @alva_uk

For further Press Information and to arrange interviews, please contact

Rachel Aked

Tel: 07790 732448

Notes to Editors

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  • VisitScotland is Scotland’s national tourism organisation. Its core purpose is to maximise the economic benefit of tourism to Scotland.
  • The organisation has three key roles:
    1. To market Scotland to all parts of the world to attract visitors
    2. To provide information – and inspiration – to visitors and potential visitors so they get the best out of a visit to Scotland
    3. To provide quality assurance to visitors and quality advice to the industry and partners to help the industry meet and strive to exceed customer expectations
  • VisitScotland works together with tourism businesses to make tourism a success for everyone and ensure the industry continues to grow.
  • The organisation employs 700 people and has offices and VisitScotland Information Centres across Scotland.
  • According to a recent Deloitte study, the tourism economy supports 270,000 jobs in Scotland in 20,000 diverse businesses. The same study calculates that the tourism economy contributes £11 billion annually (direct and indirect impact, including day visits) and supports around 10 per cent of employment in Scotland. Almost 16 million tourists take overnight trips to Scotland.
  • For VisitScotland’s press releases go to, tourism statistics and frequently asked questions go to
  • Where possible, a Gaelic speaker will be made available for broadcast interviews on request (Far an tèid iarraidh, agus far am bheil sin nar comas, bruidhinnidh neach le Gàidhlig aig agallamh)
  • For holiday information on Scotland go to
  • For information about business tourism in Scotland go to

Year of Food and Drink 2015

  • 2015 is the Year of Food and Drink, a celebration of Scotland’s natural larder and the role that food and drink plays in shaping our economic success.
  • Scotland generates over £2.5m per day through food and drink tourism.
  • A series of themed months will create an appetite for key areas of Scotland’s food and drink industries – from seafood and whisky to berries and high-quality meat
  • For more information, visit