Heritage attractions across Lanarkshire are celebrating a surge in footfall as Historic Environment Scotland (HES) announce visitor figures for the 2017/18 financial year.
The 12-month period saw Bothwell Castle – one of Scotland’s outstanding medieval monuments – record a 23 per cent increase in visitor numbers, with over 10,000 people visiting the site throughout the financial year.
Craignethan Castle – the last great private stronghold built in Scotland – also had an impressive showing, experiencing a 27 per cent surge in footfall.
More than five million people visited HES managed Historic Scotland attractions across the country during the 2017-18 period, a significant 17 per cent uplift from 2016-17.
The surge in numbers at sites across the length and breadth of the country is being attributed to growth in UK, European and overseas visitors, with a significant increase in Scots visiting sites, partly due to a strong membership base of over 194,000.
Stephen Duncan, HES director of commercial and tourism, said: “Our record breaking visitor figures are a tremendous achievement for Scotland’s heritage tourism sector.
“It is an incredible achievement to celebrate record-breaking figures across our sites.
“This growing interest in Scotland’s historic environment with visitors enjoying our rich cultural country looks set to continue.
“Thank you to all our dedicated staff who help to bring to life Scotland’s past to every single one of our five million visitors.”
Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, added: “These figures are very encouraging and suggest that 2018 is set to be another excellent, record-breaking year for our world-class attractions and Historic Scotland sites.
“Scotland’s diverse landscapes and iconic sites are of great importance to communities throughout the country, stimulating economic growth and further promoting our cultural heritage both in Scotland and internationally.”
The announcement follows the recent publication of HES’s Investment Plan, which sets out a programme to enhance the condition of sites and improve the experience of visitors.
Significant investment has seen the upgrade of visitor facilities such as heating, toilets and lighting systems at a number of properties.
As part of Year of Young People 2018, HES will also be widening access to its properties with a special entry offer for Young Scot card-holders.