Eilean Donan Castle receives top tourism award as it welcomes 0.5 million visitors this year
Eilean Donan Castle, which has welcomed over half a million visitors this year, is celebrating after being given Five Star castle status by VisitScotland.
The castle, situated at Dornie, by Kyle of Lochalsh, which is one of the most visited and recognised in the Highlands, attracted 540,000 visitors this year – a rise of twelve percent on last year. To meet this increased demand, the castle now operates as an all-year-round visitor attraction.
The castle has featured in many films over the years, including Bonnie Prince Charlie, starring David Niven (1948); The Master of Ballantrae starring Errol Flynn (1953), The New Avengers (1976); Highlander (1986); Loch Ness (1996) and James Bond – The World is Not Enough (1999).
Although first inhabited around the sixth century, the first fortified castle was built in the mid-13th century and stood guard over the lands of Kintail. Since then, at least four different versions of the castle have been built and re-built as the feudal history of Scotland unfolded through the centuries.
A fantastic experience
Chris Taylor, Regional Partnerships Director at VisitScotland, said: “Castle tourism is very important to Scotland and I would like to congratulate the staff at Eilean Donan Castle on this marvellous achievement. I’d also like to congratulate them on winning ‘Best Heritage Tourism Experience’ at the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards recently.
“Five-star status shows visitors that they can expect a fantastic and enjoyable experience, while learning all about the history of this beautiful building and it seems fitting that they have achieved this accolade in 2017, Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.
“It is evident that continual investment is being made in the castle and visitor centre to ensure that they deliver an excellent visitor experience. David and his team are committed to staff training and take pride that collectively the staff can converse with visitors in eight different languages.
“Quality Assurance is about more than just the stars on the door – it’s about the entire visitor experience and driving improvement in that experience throughout the country.”
Providing a warm welcome to visitors
David Win, Eilean Donan Castle's general manager reacted to the news: “The entire team at Eilean Donan are truly delighted to learn of the acquisition of our fifth Star in the VisitScotland Quality Assurance scheme. This award represents the culmination of many years of sustained commitment and investment to providing the very best visitor experience and services.
“The fact that this comes at such a buoyant time for Scottish tourism is also hugely satisfying. In the last five years we have increased our own annual visitor numbers to the site by over 200,000; placing significant pressures on our 65 employees. I’d like to thank each and every one of them for their incredible contribution in achieving our goals and aspirations.
“With significant investment already in the pipeline for further improvements to our visitor services, we look forward to cementing our place alongside the very best that Scottish tourism has to offer.”
For more on Eilean Donan Castle, visit the website.
(image copyright Saffron Blaze, via http://www.mackenzie.co)