ALVA Press releases


27 March 2017: Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Cornwall had record tourism years in 2016

The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) announced its members' visitor figures for 2016 today (Monday, March 27, 2017), which saw an average increase of 7.2% on 2015 visitor numbers to UK attractions. Scottish attractions had one of their best years on record, with the greatest increase of 15.6% with 15million visitors. Overall 130,248,728 visits were made to the top 241 ALVA sites in the UK.

Many of members in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Cornwall had record tourism years in 2016. The most visited attraction in Scotland and 15th most visited in the UK was the National Museum of Scotland which opened 10 new galleries in 2016 (1,810,948), and this was closely followed by Edinburgh Castle in 16th position (1,778,548) as the most visited paid for attraction in Scotland, with a 13% increase mirroring the same increase in international visitors flying into Edinburgh Airport.

Other notable increases in Scotland was the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Modern One) which saw a 29% increase and rose 11 places after attracting 285,688 visitors; Urquhart Castle (Drumnadrochit, near Inverness) saw a 14% increase and Riverside Museum, Glasgow saw a 11.23% increase (25th place & 1,259,042).

66,938,947 people – more than the total population of the UK - visited attractions in London and therefore it is no surprise that the Top 10 most visited attractions were all London based. The British Museum continued to be the most popular visitor attraction overall for the 10th year running with 6,420,395 visitors and remaining in 2nd place was the National Gallery with 6,262,839 visitors – seeing a 6% increase. 3rd place was achieved by the Tate Modern, which saw 5,839,197 visitors; the Natural History Museum moved to 4th place, and Southbank Centre was 5th –

mainly caused by the current closure for refurbishment of Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery, which re-open in 2018.

Bernard Donoghue, Director of ALVA, commented: “Like the 2015 figures, Scotland has continued to outperform the rest of the UK with a substantial increase in their visitor numbers. 2016 was a great year for Scottish Tourism – proving that Scotland is reaping the benefits of significant capital investment in attractions and creative programming by its institutions.”
He continued; “2017 should be another memorable year for ALVA members with a wonderful selection of temporary exhibitions including Frank Quitely: the Art of Comics which will open on April 1st at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow, and Beyond Caravaggio will run at the Scottish National Gallery between June 17 - September 24.”

Scottish Government Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop MSP said: “As these figures illustrate, this has been a record year for Scotland’s leading visitor attractions. Our wide range of attractions and excellent heritage and museum collections continue to provide high-quality and exciting experiences, both to people who live here, and to our visitors.

“The success of our leading visitor attractions will continue to play a vital role in making Scotland a destination of first choice for visitors from the UK and across the world.”

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For further Press Information and to arrange interviews, please contact
Rachel Aked
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ALVA’s Members are the UK's most popular, iconic and important museums, galleries, palaces, castles, cathedrals, zoos, historic houses, heritage sites, gardens and leisure attractions. The 70 ALVA members manage some nearly 2,200 tourist sites and welcome over 119 million domestic and overseas visitors each year; some 28% of the visits made annually in the United Kingdom.

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