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Last Updated: Friday, 2 September 2005, 15:01 GMT 16:01 UK
Tourism slump due to 'G8 effect'
World leaders at the end of the G8 summit
The G8 summit led to a drop in tourist numbers
The number of tourists visiting Scotland's main attractions fell sharply in July.

The 8.4% dip in numbers compared to July 2004 was due to the 'G8 effect', with people postponing trips during the month, a new report has said.

Castles and palaces saw the biggest fall, while transport-related attractions had a surge in popularity.

VisitScotland said figures for August were much better and it expected 2005 to be a good year overall.

Back on track

The report was compiled for VisitScotland by the Moffat Centre for Tourism at Glasgow Caledonian University.

It looked at 443 attractions across Scotland, which recorded 2,638,722 visitors in July.

Operators told the study that a number of factors could have been responsible for the drop.

The coverage of violence from G8 protesters, traffic disruption and many attractions being closed for three days during the summit were thought to have contributed to the drop in visits.

High petrol prices and the London bombings were also factors.

The survey monitored 65 castles and palaces which had 150,000 fewer visitors than last July, a 25.5% drop.

Whereas the eight transport-related attractions surveyed bucked the trend by showing a 13.8 rise.

The only region to show an increase in visitor numbers was Greater Glasgow, up 8.2%.

The Shetland Islands showed the largest decrease in visits, with a decline of 33.1%, possibly due to the it hosting the Island Games during this period.

Already the indications that we are getting across for August are that it has been quite strong and that it will show us back on track
Prof John Lennon

Angus & City of Dundee were down 20.3% and Argyll, The Isles, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs showed a decline in visits figures of 20.1%.

Edinburgh and the Lothians was down 15.5% and Perthshire, where the G8 summit was held, saw an 8.5% drop in numbers.

The director of the Moffat Centre, Professor John Lennon, said: "This is an exceptional July because we had the hosting of the G8 summit in Gleneagles which brought a significant amount of disruption throughout the arterial routes in many parts of Scotland."

However, he described the July figures as a "blip".

"Already the indications that we are getting across for August are that it has been quite strong and that it will show us back on track with our usual 3% or 4% rise," Prof Lennon said.

He said: "If we look at the figure year on year, that is January through to July 2004 against the same period in 2005, the drop is only 1.6%."

Visitor numbers are expected to improve in August
Visitor numbers are expected to improve in August

The professor said that despite the short term drop in tourism numbers hosting the G8 summit had placed Scotland on the world stage and shown it had facilities on a par with the best anywhere.

Prof Lennon said that the London bombings had also affected Scottish tourism.

He said London was a huge gateway for UK tourism and a drop in overseas visitors was bound to affect Scotland.

However, he said VisitScotland was targeting the core markets of Scotland and England.

"We are seeing good growth in second and third breaks coming to Scotland," Prof Lennon said.

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