Re­gion is go­ing places as tourist num­bers surge

Vis­i­tors: Soar­ing num­bers recorded for top city at­trac­tions over past year

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - FRONT PAGE - BY KIERAN BEAT­TIE

TOURISM chiefs have hailed a boost in num­bers at four key city at­trac­tions as a “strong in­di­ca­tion” the sec­tor could be mak­ing £1bil­lion a year by 2023.

The city’s David Welch Win­ter Gar­dens, the Mar­itime Mu­seum and the Tol­booth mu­seum have all en­joyed a surge of thou­sands more vis­i­tors in re­cent years.

The num­ber of peo­ple keen to see the city’s art col­lec­tion and his­toric arte­facts at the Trea­sure Hub has also gone up by 79%.

Chris Foy, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Visit Aberdeen­shire, said the in­crease shows there is a grow­ing in­ter­est in the re­gion’s “strong cul­tural her­itage”, and that “tourism will play an im­por­tant role in the fu­ture of the north-east”.

He added: “We are head­ing in the right direc­tion in re­al­is­ing our am­bi­tious tar­get of grow­ing vis­i­tor spend to £1bil­lion by the year 2023”.

Vis­i­tor num­bers in Aberdeen have soared in the last year – prompt­ing pre­dic­tions from in­dus­try chiefs that tourism will gen­er­ate £1 bil­lion a year by 2023.

Thou­sands more peo­ple toured the Mar­itime Mu­seum, Tol­booth Mu­seum and David Welch Win­ter Gar­dens in Duthie Park in 2017 com­pared to re­cent years.

Chris Foy, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of VisitAberdeen­shire, said the boost shows there is a “grow­ing re­al­i­sa­tion” that the north­east is one of Scot­land’s top des­ti­na­tions and that there is a grow­ing in­ter­est in the re­gion’s “strong cul­tural her­itage”.

And Rus­sell Borth­wick, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Com­merce, said the fig­ures proved the area was be­com­ing a more at­trac­tive place to visit for both busi­ness and leisure.

He said: “Aberdeen is trans­form­ing it­self into a mod­ern, well-con­nected, cul­tur­ally di­verse city re­gion ca­pa­ble of sup­port­ing our fu­ture growth.

“The wide range of at­trac­tions and ac­tiv­i­ties which bring colour and vi­brancy to the north-east are an im­por­tant part of what makes peo­ple want to live, work, study, visit and do busi­ness here and it is fan­tas­tic that four of our much-loved fa­cil­i­ties re­main a vi­tal part of our of­fer­ing.”

Ac­cord­ing to the fig­ures, nearly 81,000 vis­i­tors went to the Mar­itime Mu­seum on Ship Row in 2017 – an in­crease of al­most 9,000 since 2015, when around 72,000 vis­ited.

Around 6,500 ex­tra peo­ple delved into Aberdeen’s his­tory at the Tol­booth Mu­seum on Union Street – with more than 27,000 in at­ten­dance in 2017 and around 21,000 in 2015.

The David Welch Win­ter

Gar­dens in Duthie Park, where a cafe has re­cently opened, had more than 323,000 vis­i­tors in 2017 – com­pared to around 275,000 in 2015.

And the Aberdeen Trea­sure Hub in North­field, which opened in Novem­ber 2016 to house the city’s col­lec­tion of art­work and his­toric arte­facts when not on dis­play, has en­joyed an in­crease of vis­i­tors from 854 in its first eight months, to 1,530 in its sec­ond eight months – an in­crease of 79%.

Mr Foy said: “The in­creased vis­i­tor num­bers to the Aberdeen Mar­itime Mu­seum and the Tol­booth Mu­seum re­flect an in­ter­est in our strong cul­tural her­itage and a grow­ing re­al­i­sa­tion that the north­east has the space to wel­come vis­i­tors to Scot­land, which was most re­cently named by the Rough Guide pub­li­ca­tions as its favourite des­ti­na­tion of the year.

“Tourism will play an im­por­tant role in the eco­nomic fu­ture of the north-east and the lat­est vis­i­tor fig­ures are a strong in­di­ca­tion we are head­ing in the right direc­tion in re­al­is­ing our am­bi­tious tar­get of grow­ing vis­i­tor spend to £1bn by the year 2023, as out­lined in the new des­ti­na­tion strat­egy which launched last month.”

“Aberdeen is trans­form­ing it­self into a mod­ern, well­con­nected, cul­tur­ally di­verse city re­gion”

Pho­to­graph by Colin Ren­nie KEY ROLE: Coun­cil co-leader Dou­glas Lums­den hopes offerings such as the mar­itime mu­seum can safe­guard the econ­omy

Chris Foy

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