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Urquhart Castle on the shores of Loch Ness has experienced a surge in footfall as Historic Environment Scotland (HES) releases its visitor figures for 2018.
Urquhart Castle – once one of Scotland’s largest castles – welcomed more than 500,000 visitors for the first time in a calendar year. Urquhart Castle is the third most-visited staffed HES site, behind only Edinburgh Castle and Stirling Castle.
Part of the surge in footfall is being attributed to the extended opening hours last year, as well as a record number of people taking part in HES’s St Andrew’s Day ticket giveaway.
HES has reported an overall five per cent increase in footfall with a total of 5,229,049 people visiting its staffed sites last year. HES also had a record number of memberships in 2018 which peaked at over 200,000 – up five per cent over 2017.
Stephen Duncan, director for commercial and tourism, said: ‘2018 was another fantastic year for Scotland’s heritage sites, with visitor numbers continuing to grow.
‘As well as the “Outlander effect” bringing international visitors to Scotland to explore its rich history, we have also seen an increase in the number of Scots visiting heritage sites as evidenced in our highest ever membership figure.
‘With Scotland being used as a filming location for productions such as Outlaw King and Mary Queen of Scots, we hope visitors will continue to be inspired to explore the history of the sites they see on the big screen.’
HES looks after more than 300 heritage sites, including over 70 staffed attractions.