Halloween on the rise: VisitScotland reveals growth in ghostly visits

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Scotland’s supernatural sights are drawing in more visitors than ever according to new figures from VisitScotland.

Trips to spooky sights have grown by over 76 per cent in the last 20 years according to the organisation, which marks it’s 50th anniversary this year.

Scotland has been a Halloween haven for centuries with its wide range of haunted houses, spine-chilling stories and hair-raising locations.

This year has seen Halloween’s popularity rise however, with visitor numbers to reportedly haunted attractions leaping by around 1.7 million.

VisitScotland’s Ghost Trail was launched last year and measures how many people have been visiting the ghostly graveyards, bloody battlefields and creepy castles.

Skaill House, Orkney – Image supplied

It found that in 1999 there were 2.2 million visits to 10 attractions featured on the VisitScotland trail and by 2018 that had jumped to 3.9 million visits.

Greyfriars Kirk in Edinburgh has seen the biggest surge in visitor numbers, going from just over 13,000 in 1999 to more than 51,000 last year – a rise of 273.4 per cent.

Halloween’s roots are arguably deeper within Scotland as it is said to originate from ancient Gaelic celebrations and is based on the pagan ‘Feast of Samhain’.

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said: “Halloween brings huge tourism potential and these figures prove how Scotland’s bloody history, looming landscape, and spooky superstitions are a huge draw for visitors.

“As it is VisitScotland’s 50th anniversary, it’s encouraging to see that attractions featured within our Ghost Trail have seen great growth over the years and while this is VisitScotland’s own milestone, it’s very much an anniversary to be shared with our industry colleagues and partners.

“With more and more attractions introducing eerie events, Halloween shows no signs of stopping but ghosts are said to haunt these locations year-round, so there are plenty of opportunities to extend these festivities beyond October and November and capitalise on the public’s fascination with the supernatural.”

Cormac Grogan, Manager of Skaill House, said:“Visitor numbers at Skaill House have been making a steady rise for the past couple of decades and with Halloween being the last day of our season, our ghosts have been a continuous draw for locals and tourists alike, giving us a final busy day to look forward to.

“Halloween is always welcomed here at Skaill. The house has 400 years of history, so unsurprisingly, there are quite a few ghost stories that come with it.”

 
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