Tourist attractions across the north and north-east of Scotland celebrated a bumper year in 2018 with record numbers of visitors.
The Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions (ASVA) announced yesterday that visits to sites grew significantly last year, remaining ahead of the national average.
Analysis of statistics submitted by 232 of the organisation’s member sites for its annual visitor trends report confirmed that over 30 million visits were made last year.
Visits to sites in the northern region – which includes Aberdeen city and Shire, Moray, the Highlands, Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland – showed a collective increase of 5.2%.
This comes on the back of a 12.8% rise in 2017, demonstrating that tourism growth in the region continues to stay ahead of the national average, which itself is enjoying a period of sustained growth with a 0.1% rise in visitors.
Notable visitor increases were recorded at National Trust for Scotland properties including Haddo House (+33%), Brodie Castle (+22%), Craigievar Castle (+16%), Crathes Castle (+5%) and Drum Castle (+8%).
In Moray, significant increases were recorded at distilleries and whisky-related attractions including Cardhu Distillery Visitor Centre (+14%), Dallas Dhu Distillery (+11%) and the Royal Lochnagar Distillery Visitor Centre (+4%).
Commenting on a successful year for National Trust for Scotland properties across Aberdeenshire, general manager for the north-east, Iain Hawkins said: “Everything we do at the National Trust for Scotland is for the love of Scotland, and it is great to see so many people sharing that with us by experiencing the places that make the north-east so special.”
A spokesman for Historic Environment Scotland, which is responsible for the Dallas Dhu Distillery, said: “Dallas Dhu is one of a number of our historic properties across Moray that has seen an increase in visitors this year.
“The increase in footfall across the region demonstrates the increasing popularity of the area.”
Highland attraction Landmark Forest Adventure Park in Carrbridge was last year named in the top 1% of visitor attractions worldwide by the TripAdvisor website.
Communications manager at Landmark, Ross Coulter, said: “While the good summer weather will have played some role in these figures, I also think that it is a testament to the great offerings we now have in the Highlands.
“We’ve noticed an increase in the number of people making very long day trips to visit Landmark in 2018.
“People definitely seem to be willing to travel much further afield for such a unique experience.”