Skara Brae Neolithic Village in the Heart of Neolithic Orkney had a slight % increase in visitor numbers in 2018 – up by 2% – with 111,921 people passing through the Visitor Centre.
According to Historic Environment Scotland (HES) who manage the World Heritage Site, across the whole of Scotland the total income added to the local economies by visitors to their sites was £620million.
Here is the Top Ten Ticketed sites for HES
- Edinburgh Castle, 2,111,578, +2%
- Stirling Castle, 605,241, +7%
- Urquhart Castle, 518,195, +6%
- Glasgow Cathedral, 482,783, +24%
- Doune Castle, 142,091, +14%
- Skara Brae, 111,921, +2%
- Linlithgow Palace, 94,718, +9%
- St Andrew’s Castle, 91,302, +1%
- Fort George, 71,906, -5%
- Iona Abbey, 64,183 -3%
It will be of no surprise to see Edinburgh Castle’s visitor numbers dominating yet again. It is interesting that despite the rise in cruise ship numbers and how well honed the ‘welcoming industry’ is in Orkney that Skara Brae only rose by 2%. Although the entrance numbers are still increasing it may be that a significant number of visitors to Orkney are opting not to take in Skara Brae. This could be due to a number of factors including the short period of time many of them have to spend if they arrive by cruise ship. Another factor could be the perception that it will be very busy so some are choosing to avoid it.
The massive increase is to sites associated with Outlander with many seeking out places linked to that programme. It will be interesting to see if Outlaw King has a similar impact in the coming year. Both programmes are on Netflix and have a considerable following in North America. Mary Queen of Scots now in our cinemas may also increase visitor numbers to the locations used in its filming.
HES also had an increase in memberships – up by 5% to over 200,000. They manage over 300 heritage sites, including over 70 which are staffed.
Stephen Duncan, Director for Commercial and Tourism with HES, said:
“These incredible figures show the importance that the historic environment has on local communities with the vast majority of economic growth generated by the increase in high-spending international visitors.
“From abbeys in the Borders to Norse settlements in Shetland, the appeal of Scotland’s cultural heritage reaches far and wide and is there to be enjoyed by all.”
Reporter: Fiona Grahame