Melrose Abbey has been declared world class and one of Scotland’s best visitor attractions. Independent quality assurance inspectors from VisitScotland have awarded it the coveted five-star status after examining every aspect of the visitor experience. This means the three staffed Borders Abbeys cared for by Historic Scotland, and Smailholm Tower, are all now five-star attractions. Minister for Culture, External Affairs and the Constitution, Michael Russell, said: “You can’t get better than five star, so this is a brilliant achievement by the staff at Melrose. It now means that all Historic Scotland paid attractions in the Borders are of five star status. All the staff at the attractions have worked very hard to get and to keep this level of quality across the region. This is a great achievement for the staff locally, for the heritage agency overall and something we can be very proud of.”
“Melrose Abbey has a lot to celebrate this year as its visitor figures for the year so far have jumped by 15.6% compared to 2008 – an absolutely tremendous performance.”
Between April and the end of August the abbey attracted 33,558 visitors compared to 29,025. Historic Scotland had a campaign earlier this year which offered a special price for membership especially for the Year of Homecoming 2009. The campaign proved an enormous success due, the agency believe, to many people having “staycations ” – staying at home for holidays – and looking for value for money family days out. Melrose Abbey may be benefiting from this extra emphasis on value from families suffering from the credit crunch.
The abbey had previously been a four-star attraction, but it has improved its rating thanks to the introduction of new and more modern information boards, material and information for visitors. VisitScotland has operated a quality assurance inspection scheme for visitor attractions since 1995. The scheme gives an independent quality assurance award and incorporates the inspection of properties for Thistle tourist signposting. There are five quality grades for the standard of facilities and services following the assessment of the appropriate areas.
Historic Scotland is one of the two main organisations which run Scotland’s castles and historic Scotland , the other one being the National Trust for Scotland . HS is a government agency which has 345 outstanding historic properties and sites in its care. These include some of the top tourist attractions in Scotland, including Edinburgh, Stirling, and Urquhart castles, Fort George, Linlithgow Palace, the Border Abbeys, and Skara Brae. For further details visit: www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/places
Historic Scotland’s mission is to safeguard Scotland’s historic environment and to promote its understanding and enjoyment. Historic Scotland has been a major supporter of the 2009 Year of Homecoming with a series of initiatives including family trails, spectacular events and the creation of a Homecoming Pass for heritage attractions in association with other heritage organisations.
Visitor figures for the UK’s top tourist attractions have been published today . Edinburgh Castle had over one million visitors in 2008 , although the total for the year represents a drop of 8% . The Falkirk Wheel weighed in with 500,829 visitors , 2.5% less than 2007 . Kelvingrove Art Gallery is Scotland’s top tourist attraction, despite a huge 35% fall in visitors last year.
The museum was the leading attraction in Scotland with 1,445,098 visits last year,and the 13th most visited site in the UK.
However, the fall in visitors has been the pattern experienced by most of the leading tourist attractions.
Visitors to Edinburgh Castle, the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh, the National Museum of Scotland, and the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow all fell from 2007.
The figures were released by the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (Alva) who maintain that new research of their membership showed that most expected to maintain or increase their visitor figures this year.
The National Museum of Scotland last year closed part of its premises for refurbishment, which may accounts for part of its 27% fall, to 614,894 visitors.
10 most popular attractions in Scotland
1 Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow: 1,445,098 visitors, change from 2007 (-35.3%)
2 Edinburgh Castle: 1,128,394 (-8%)
3 National Gallery complex in Edinburgh: 842,958 (-10.3%)
4 National Museum of Scotland: 614,894 (-27%)
5 Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow: 562,595 (-18.8%)
6 The Falkirk Wheel: 500,829 (-2.5%)
7 National War Museum in Edinburgh: 474,133 (+1%)
8 Museum of Transport, Glasgow: 456,324 (-14.8%)
9 Stirling Castle: 403,778 (-8%)
10 Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness: 270, 097 (-3%)
Getting to the Falkirk Wheel is fairly easy by taxi or bus. There is a bus service from the centre of Falkirk . Airport transfers can take visitors from Edinburgh Airport or Falkirk by taxi to the Wheel