Double bubble boost for Falkirk’s main attractions

The double attraction of the Kelpies and the Falkirk Wheel is bringing more visitors to the district and boosting the local economy.

If new figures are a taste of things to come, the £43 million invested in the Helix project will pay dividends for Falkirk as two of Scotland’s top tourist agencies announce rising visitor numbers.

Visitor numbers at the Falkirk Wheel have risen in the past year

Visitor numbers at the Falkirk Wheel have risen in the past year

The Falkirk Wheel was one of the country’s ten top attraction last year with 605,432 visitors – up from 514,170 on the previous year.

This is more than Stirling Castle and the Glasgow Science Centre, according to the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions (ASVA).

New research by Glasgow Caledonian University’s (GCU) Moffat Centre for Travel and Tourism Business Development, shows both the Wheel, operated by Scottish Canals, and the Kelpies provided a combined appeal to 1.3 million people in 2015.

Visits to Helix Park and the Kelpies are more difficult to monitor as it is free to enter and there is more than one entrance.

Falkirk Council’s tourism spokesman Councillor Adrian Mahoney said the Kelpies played a big part in the Wheel’s rejuvenated fortunes and hope the trend continues, with people also checking out the other attractions the district has to offer while they’re here.

He said: “It’s great to read of the rise in visitors to the local area. The Wheel’s increase in 2015, as reported by ASVA, is very impressive – up 17.7 per cent in one year.

“Well done to everyone at Scottish Canals.

“I also hope that people visiting the big tourist sites within Falkirk district will stay longer and visit some of our smaller attractions too. We have some real gems right across the district.

“They may not all get the big numbers, but they offer great visitor experiences throughout the year.

“For our part we’ll continue to press the message that Falkirk district is a great place to visit. Here’s hoping we can build on our successes in 2016.”

The Kelpies has also been shortlisted in the tourism and leisure category for a design gong in the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ RICS Awards 2016 in Scotland. The ceremony is on April 14.