Visitor numbers to Holyrood hit a high of more than 400,000 in 2009. The news came as the Scottish Parliament opened its doors for the first time in 2010 – the building re-opened to the public at 10am on Monday 4 January.
A grand total of 420,982 people visited Holyrood between 1 January to 31 December 2009 – drawn in by free tours of the building, an award-winning festival and an event-filled anniversary programme.
The figures mark an increase in visitor numbers of almost 27 per cent compared with the same period last year, and are only bettered by totals for 2005 – the first full year the Holyrood building opened – when 442,865 people visited.
Figures also show that the number of visitors taking tours of Parliament increased by nearly 30 per cent in comparison to 2008.
Presiding Officer Alex Fergusson MSP said: "As these figures show, 2009 marked an extremely a busy year for Holyrood, especially with our 10th anniversary activities. I would love to see the Parliament welcome even more visitors and have a record-breaking year in 2010.
"Holyrood staff are always working to help people access their Parliament and never stop looking for ways to make this easier. This increase shows we are a true Parliament for the people.”
Highlights of 2009 included:
- the events of 1 July, when Holyrood marked the exact 10th anniversary of the Parliament receiving its legislative powers, in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen and more than 140 ten-year-old children
- the most successful-ever Festival of Politics
- several major events held as part of the Homecoming celebrations.
The Scottish Parliament building is open free of charge to the public. Free guided tours are available for the general visitor on non-business days and for Members' guests on business days during parliament terms. Tours operate regularly throughout each day, from 10am to 5pm on weekdays and 11am to 4.30pm on Saturdays, subject to availability, offering up to 48 tours each week.
Handsets are also available to provide a summary of the tour in languages other than English.
The free public crèche at the Scottish Parliament caters for children aged six weeks to five years and allows visitors to attend meetings, debates or tour the building while their children are cared for by qualified staff.