Saturday, September 5, 2009

Visits to islands and churches up

There was a rise in visits to religious sites

The Highlands and Islands saw a larger percentage increase in tourist visits during July than any other part of Scotland, new statistics have shown.

Figures compiled by Glasgow Caledonian University for VisitScotland recorded a 12.% rise for the Western Isles and 11.3% for the Highlands.

Among Scottish attractions showing an increase in visits were churches, abbeys and cathedrals.

Fewer people toured gardens and visited Ayrshire and Arran than July 2008.

The figures were produced for the monthly Visitor Attraction Barometer.

The review of 524 sites showed 4.7 million visits during July, more than the 4.5 million at the same time last year.

In June, Highland Council officials said tourism offered "some optimism" in the Highlands, amid rising unemployment caused by the recession.

The paper had painted a bleak picture in the north with a higher than average percentage rise in benefits claimants.

Officers warned that the rate of unemployment was expected to worsen.

But they added that VisitScotland reported the industry was "upbeat" and positive about the summer season.

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