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Visitor attraction best practice


The aim of the research was to identify and investigate best practice in a range of key areas of visitor attraction development and operation in Scotland, in order to support the growth and development of the visitor attraction sector. The objectives of the research were to provide: an overview of key markets, trends and recent developments in the visitor attraction sector – globally, in the UK and in Scotland; case studies of visitor attractions which are successful in delivering different aspects of the visitor attraction experience, highlighting key lessons for Scottish attractions; examples of innovation which are transferrable to the Scottish business environment; examples of critical success factors, including those that might apply to specifically urban or rural attractions; and illustrations of how attractions are supported in other countries – e.g. through tax breaks, sponsorship, friends’ groups, highlighting any key lessons for Scotland.


The methodology primarily consisted of desk-based research, alongside several site visits and interviews with attraction operators.


The report presents findings in terms of food; retail; events; revenue; brand; marketing and social media; the visitor experience; visitor access; technology; collaboration; education and outreach; volunteers; funding; growth, development and refreshing; and monitoring. It highlights that 2015 was a good year for world tourism overall, with a 4.5% rise in outbound trips in the first eight months, and that further growth of 4.3% is forecast for 2016. The report highlights a range of key influences for the future of the Scottish tourist industry, including: economic uncertainty; infrastructure; investor attitudes to opportunities and risk; and responding to the needs of the ‘millennial’ market. Growth in visitor numbers across 250 of Scotland’s 850 visitor attractions over the last three years is noted, with Edinburgh growing above the national average, recording growth of 5.9% in 2015. With regards to Brexit, the report suggests that the economic uncertainty it is causing may impact on the tourism industry in terms of travel confidence and investment, particularly in the hotel sector. It is suggested that this may increase domestic leisure tourism however, and that a weak pound may increase the number of inbound holiday visitors to the UK and Scotland. The report indicates that the direction of visitor attraction operation is heading towards the provision of more niche and intimate experiences that allow visitors a more immersive and active experience.


The report does not make any specific recommendations. However, it is suggested that visitor attraction operators will need to pay more attention to the needs of various demographic groups, including a more active ageing population, and respond to trends such as a desire for a healthier lifestyle and to experience authentic local culture.

Author Tourism Resources Company
Published Year 2016
Report Type Research
  • Business infrastructure
    Supporting key sectors
  • Sectors