The increase has been attributed to a 2m growth in tourist visits in one year.

Photo of Eilean Donan Castle

Scotland’s heritage sector makes important contributions to economic growth, wellbeing and reducing carbon emissions in the country, a new report finds. 

Over £4bn was generated for the Scottish economy by the country’s heritage sector in 2017-18, driven by increasing numbers of tourist visits. 18 million people visited the country’s heritage sites in 2017, up from 16m in 2016.

Key achievements

The data comes from the fourth annual report for Scotland’s ten-year heritage strategy.

The document – which includes case studies from across the historic environment sector – reveals over £56m has been granted between 2014 and 2018 to assist repairs, which cost a total of almost £260m.

It also finds: 

  • The biggest increase in visitors to historic sites between 2012-2017 was from young people, with the 16-24 age category increasing by 10 percentage points and the 25-34 category by 11 percentage points
  • Four in ten of the historic buildings on the Buildings at Risk Register between 2009 and 2018 have been saved
  • More than 17,000 volunteers engage in Scotland’s historic environment – a number that has remained stable since the strategy’s launch.

Jane Ryder, Chair of Historic Environment Scotland (HES), which manages the strategy, said the report shows steady progress towards key priorities.  “As well as a rise in both the number and range of people visiting the historic environment, there has been a boost to the availability of skills through apprenticeships, fellowships and internships, plus additional FTE jobs created across the sector this year,” she said.

“We will continue to work with partners in the sector to create a flourishing historic environment to ensure future generations can enjoy Scotland’s remarkable assets.”

Scottish Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop praised the HES strategy’s progress. “We will continue to build on this success in the years to come as we work together to ensure that Scotland’s historic environment continues to make a strong contribution to Scotland’s culture, economy and wider wellbeing,” she said.