VisitScotland Chief Executive Malcolm Roughead has hailed Outlander as the new Braveheart of tourism with visitors from around the world flocking to Scotland to experience the landscape that inspired the series, the same way that thousands travelled to the country after the release of Braveheart in 1995.
Latest figures from the Moffat Centre’s Visitor Attraction Monitor show the tangible effect the series, which is based on Diana Gabaldon’s famous novels, has had on attractions in Scotland with many reporting as much as a 92 per cent rise in visitors.
Between 2014, when the series first aired and 2016, Doune Castle – which doubles as Castle Leoch in the popular show – has had an unprecedented 91.8 per cent increase in visitors from 47,069 to 90,279.
Blackness Castle, which provides the setting for malicious Black Jack Randall’s headquarters has welcomed 85.5 per cent more visitors since 2014, rising from 16,559 visitors per year to 30,053 in 2016.
Other key attractions which have seen a growth in numbers since Jamie and Claire first hit our screens include Glencoe Visitor Centre (53 per cent), Glasgow Cathedral (plus 35 per cent) and Preston Mill (plus 18 per cent).
Recent VisitScotland research has also shown the profound impact the series has had on visitors with Outlander being the most mentioned TV or film inspiration for people (especially those from the USA) wanting to come to the country, above Braveheart, Harry Potter and Highlander.
The national tourism organisation’s Outlander locations map, which features on VisitScotland.com, has received hundreds of thousands of downloads since it was added in 2014 and over 24,000 hard copies of the map have been distributed in that time. Organic traffic to the Outlander page on visitscotland.com has risen 15 per cent in the past 12 months.
Outlander returns to screens in the US (Sunday 10 Sept) and UK (Monday 11 Sept) for its much-anticipated third season. Based on the bestselling books by Diana Gabaldon, the Outlander television series is produced by Sony Pictures Television and shown in the UK on Amazon Prime.
Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland said: “We have been absolutely blown away by the response globally to the Outlander series and the direct impact it has had on visits is truly exceptional. In past research it is always Braveheart, Harry Potter or even the Da Vinci Code which was mentioned as film inspiration, but in recent times it is Outlander which is referenced above all others. And I’m not surprised, Scotland looks truly stunning in the series and I can see why fans of Jamie and Claire want to experience the land that inspired Outlander for themselves.
“Film tourism is hugely important for the Scottish economy and year on year we see more and more set-jetters coming to our country to experience for themselves the backdrops that feature in their favourite film or movie. This is not a trend that will go out of fashion, so whether it’s heading to Lewis to see where Katie Morag’s adventures began or unlocking the mysteries of the Holy Grail at Rosslyn Chapel, we hope many more will continue to come to Scotland to see the real life movie sets.”
Scottish locations to have benefited from their association with movies or television shows include:
Braveheart (1995) – the Wallace Monument in Stirling saw visitor numbers leap from 30,000 a year to nearly 200,000 in 1996.
The Da Vinci Code (2006) – Dan Brown’s 2003 novel had a huge effect on Rosslyn Chapel. Visitor numbers increased by 72 per cent, from 68,603 in 2004 to 118,151 in 2005. In 2006, following the release of the film directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks, visitor numbers reached 175,053.
Skyfall (2012) – the 23rd film in the James Bond franchise was great news for Glen Coe. Statistics from the National Trust for Scotland revealed that 114,298 people visited the region in 2013/14 – up 41.7 per cent on 2012/13.
For more information on Outlander and Scotland, go to www.visitscotland.com/outlander