Ashley Smith-Hammond

Tourist numbers to Scottish cultural sites are soaring. Is this a unique audience segment worth targeting?

Cultural sites across Scotland are attracting record visitor numbers according to figures published by the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions (ASVA).

The annual ‘Visitor Trends Report’ was just published. It revealed that fully half of the top ten Scottish tourist attractions in 2016 were cultural venues.

  • National Museum of Scotland (No. 1)
  • Scottish National Gallery (No. 3)
  • Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum (No. 4)
  • Riverside Museum (No. 5)
  • Gallery of Modern Art (No. 10)

Visits to museums and galleries increased by 5.7 per cent.

The data also revealed a year-on-year increase in overall visitor numbers since 2014. The National Museum of Scotland came out on top after visitor numbers increased by 15.5 per cent last year. A total of 1.81 million people visited the museum in Edinburgh, which opened ten new galleries in July 2016.

The Scottish National Gallery complex in Edinburgh also saw a notable rise in visitor numbers of 12.1 per cent, while Glasgow’s Riverside Museum showed a rise of 11.5 per cent.

The reason for such widespread increases? Alongside the attractions themselves, the falling value of the pound in 2016 is thought to have contributed as more Europeans head to UK shores. Scots on ‘staycations’ are also thought to have played their part.

The significant number of tourist visits to museums and cultural sites make them well worth catering to as a unique audience segment. Some holiday makers are attracted to the country with cultural visits in mind at the outset, while others actively seek out cultural experiences once they arrive. Knowing more about their motivations and plans will help drive marketing plans to reach out and connect with these visitors as they plan their trip.

With tourists as with all cultural audiences, understanding is the key. Once you have identified who your audience are, it becomes easier to see how you can improve communications and better cater to their needs – and so drive interest and engagement in your organisation.

Main image credit: Tourists! by Andrew (CC BY-SA 2.0)