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Article published 14/03/2019

Outlander author recognised with national tourism award

Outlander author Diana Gabaldon will be honoured at the Scottish tourism ‘Oscars’ tonight (Thursday, 14 March), as our new research paper reveals the extent of the effect her creation has had on Scottish tourism.

To mark our 50th anniversary (since VisitScotland/Scottish Tourist Board was created) the American writer will receive a special “International Contribution to Scottish Tourism” award from us at the Scottish Thistle Awards, the industry’s premier awards ceremony.

The Outlander Effect & Tourism paper, published today by our Insight team, reveals that attractions used in the popular television adaptation of her famous novels have seen visitor numbers soar by 67% since 2013, from 887,000 to 1.5 million.

Screen tourism, or set-jetting, whereby viewers visit their favourite on-screen location, is a growing trend in Scotland and nowhere is it better seen than in the effect on Outlander filming locations.

Doune Castle which doubles as Castle Leoch in the popular TV series has seen the largest surge in visitor numbers – 226.5% in the last five years, from 38,081 to 124,341 – followed by Blackness Castle (181.7%), which features as Black Jack Randall’s headquarters, and Glasgow Cathedral (66.8%), which played a French hospital.

As part of the Insight paper, all Scottish visitor attractions were surveyed to discover how screen tourism and Outlander has impacted on their business. Almost all respondents considered screen tourism as positive for the industry and a fifth of attractions located adjacent to filming locations said they saw an increase in visitors.

The findings also reveal that the dedicated Outlander page on visitscotland.com was the fifth most popular VisitScotland webpage in the time between the broadcast of Season Three and Season Four of the TV series – with Scotland’s standing stones, castles and ancestry among the most popular link clicks.

The romantic adventures of English World War II combat nurse Claire Randall, who travels back in time to 18th century Scotland where she meets and falls in love with Scottish Highlander Jamie Fraser, were introduced to readers in 1991. A further seven novels and nine spin-off books have been published in 43 countries and in 39 languages, selling more than 35 million printed copies worldwide.

In 2014, Outlander was adapted for television by Sony Pictures and film production continues to be based in Scotland, with many Scottish locations doubling as France, the Caribbean and North America.

The honorary award is one of a series of activities taking place this year to recognise the Development of Tourism Act which came into force in 1969 and formed the basis for an official Scottish Tourist Board, and the origins of VisitScotland.

I'm deeply honoured, and so pleased, at being given the Thistle Award. To be quite honest, I chose Scotland as the setting for my first novel because of a man in a kilt, but upon looking into things more deeply, was enchanted to discover a country and a people like no other, whose traditions and history are as strikingly beautiful as its landscapes.

Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander series

Screen tourism continues to be a growing trend, however it is Outlander which has been the story in recent times, inspiring millions of visitors, from the US to Europe and even China, to embark on their own Scottish adventure.

Over 200 years ago Sir Walter Scott published his first historical novel, Waverley, which inspired visitors and helped create the modern tourism industry. It seems only fitting that during our golden anniversary, when we celebrate the major milestones of Scottish tourism over the last 50 years, we recognise another Jacobean tale and its author for inspiring many more.

The Scottish Thistle Awards celebrates quality, innovation and excellence across this industry – the best of luck to all of those shortlisted!

For more Outlander-inspired adventures in Scotland go to visitscotland.com/outlander