Outland fans who binged on the series throughout the Covid lockdowns helped boost tourism numbers in Scotland last year, it has been claimed.
The latest research by the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) shows that visitors flooded back to Scotland from around the world in 2022.
Scots attractions enjoyed an average 128% increase in visits – the highest of all the home nations – with sites associated with Outlander, the hit TV series based on the books by Diana Gabaldon, seeing some of the biggest spikes.
The increase in visits has been credited in part to so-called “set-jetters” desperate to see for themselves the places they saw on TV during lockdowns.
Fans returned to Doune Castle near Stirling in their droves when it reopened in June. The fortress, famed for its role as the fictional Castle Leoch in the series, saw a 1650% increase in visits from just 3171 in 2021 to 55,484 last year.
Blackness Castle, the 15th-century fortress in West Lothian that provided the setting for the Fort William HQ of Black Jack Randall, had 58,168 visitors in 2022, up 359% from the previous year.
And Glasgow Cathedral, which doubled as L’Hopital Des Anges in Paris where Claire volunteers to work in the second series, saw a 658% rise in visits to 256,001 compared with 33,788 in 2021.
Meanwhile, Glencoe Visitor Centre, whose surrounding landscape famously featured in Outlander’s opening credits, also saw a higher-than-average increase after it welcomed 344,896 people, up 166% from the previous year.
Bernard Donoghue, Director of ALVA, said: “Overseas visitors, in particular, have come back to Scotland very quickly, especially from North America, near-Europe and Scandinavia. They have been going to the iconic attractions, mainly in the central belt but also to castles and attractions in the Highlands and Islands.
“One thing we are really seeing is the effects of lockdown TV binging resulting in people wanting to go to the actual places and stand on the actual spot. Outlander is a great example of this.”
Culross in Fife is known as ‘Outlander village’
Outlander has been credited with bringing the landscape and scenery of Scotland to a new worldwide audience since it first aired in 2014.
The so-called “Outlander Effect” has seen tourists from around the world flock to locations used in the series, which stars Sam Heughan as Highlander Jamie Fraser and Caitriona Balfe as time travelling combat nurse Claire Randall.
Other Outlander sites also saw welcome increases in visitor numbers. Culross in Fife, known to fans as the “Outlander village” saw a jump in visitors with Culross Palace welcoming 21,894 people, up 104% from 2021.
Preston Mill and Phantassie Doocot in East Lothian, which provided the backdrop for Jacobite scenes, increased visitor numbers by 52% last year, while Newhailes House, also in East Lothian, which served as Governor Tryon’s home in North Carolina, climbed 317% from 65,470 visits in 2021 to 272,737 last year.
VisitScotland said there was strong interest in Outlander during lockdown with the series remaining one of the most popular searches on its website and inspiring trips when sites reopened and international travel resumed.
The benefits, they say, spread far beyond the industry itself, to the economy, creating jobs and helping to sustain communities.
A VisitScotland spokesperson said: “Outlander has inspired many visitors to travel to Scotland in recent years, especially from Europe and the USA. Interest in the series and associated attractions has remained high despite the challenges of the pandemic with the show one of the most popular searches on our website.
“Film and TV tourism helps attract visitors to many regions in Scotland, boosting local economies. Our work in this area includes encouraging visitors to travel responsibly and promoting both regional and seasonal spread to support communities and businesses.”