North-east visitor attractions have enjoyed a bumper year, according to new figures.
Haddo House, Drum Castle and Craigievar Castle, were among popular spots in the area to see the number of people visiting soar last year.
The Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions (ASVA), which represents the sector across Scotland, hailed the figures in the annual Visitor Trends report.
Statistics submitted by 232 of the organisation’s members show that 30,262,245 visits were made to those sites in Scotland last year, an increase of 0.1% from 2017. It follows a 9.7% rise in 2017, and a 6% increase in 2016.
While Edinburgh continued to dominate the marketplace, with 10 of the top 20 attractions located in the city, visitor sites across the north-east fared well.
Among those enjoying a boost to visitor figures was stately home Haddo House, near Tarves, enjoyed an increase of 33%, going from 4,386 visitors in 2017 to 5,815 in 2018.
Meanwhile, Crathes Castle, near Banchory, had an 8% boost with figures rising from 121,841 in 2017 to 127,695 in 2018.
Drum Castle saw a 5% increase, going from 46,574 in 2017 to 50,421 last year, while Edzell Castle and Garden had 6,592 visitors last year, compared to 6,389 in 2017 – an increase of 3%.
And Spynie Palace, near Elgin, saw an 8% boost with 7,411 in 2018 compared to 6,892 the previous year.
Speaking about the success of National Trust for Scotland (NTS) properties across Aberdeenshire, general manager for the north-east Iain Hawkins said: “Everything we do at the NTS is for the love of Scotland, and it is great to see so many people sharing that with us by experiencing the places that make the north-east so special.”
Chris Foy, chief executive of VisitAberdeenshire, said: “Quality visitor experiences are at the heart of the North-east’s tourism proposition, and these latest figures are a strong indication of the national and international appeal of this part of Scotland.”
Other popular attractions experiencing a surge in visitors were the Elgin Cathedral with 39,398 vistors in 2018, compared to 38,201 the previous year, a rise of 3%.
Gordon Morrison, chief executive of ASVA, said: “These figures demonstrate that the visitor attractions sector in the north-east has excelled once again.
“Attractions that have invested in their visitor offer by providing fantastic customer service and innovative new products and services, supported by creative and effective marketing campaigns, are not only reaching new visitor markets but are actively encouraging their existing visitors to return time and again.”
Distilleries and whisky-related attractions also saw visitors flocking through their doors. This included the Royal Lochnagar Distillery Visitor Centre, which saw a 4% rise with 22,398 in 2018, up from 21,576 in 2017.