Visitors flock to Fife’s historic sites

Pic: Neil Hanna Photography
Pic: Neil Hanna Photography

Heritage attractions across Fife 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 Aberdour Castle – possibly Scotland’s oldest standing castle – continue to celebrate the ‘Outlander effect’ as it recorded an impressive 56 per cent increase in visitors on the previous financial year.

Other sites in the region have also had an impressive showing. St Andrews Cathedral recorded a 23 per cent increase in visitors, while St Andrews Castle saw a 16 per cent surge in footfall.

Dunfermline Abbey and Palace – resting place of some of Scotland’s greatest medieval monarchs – experienced a dramatic 39 per cent increase in visitor numbers.

Inchcolm Abbey, with its picturesque island setting in the Firth of Forth, also saw a rise in visitors.

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: “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 year for our world-class attractions. Scotland’s diverse landscapes and iconic sites are of great importance to communities throughout the country.”

The announcement follows the 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.