Award for Outlander author’s outstanding contribution to Scotland

Outlander author Diana Gabaldon has been with a special honour in recognition of her contribution to tourism in Scotland.

Photograph by: VisitScotlandDiana Gabaldon

The American writer received an “International Contribution to Scottish Tourism” award from VisitScotland at the Scottish Thistle Awards, the industry’s premier awards ceremony.

Gabaldon’s time-travel romance books have seen visitor numbers to attractions featured in the highly popular spin-off television series soar by 67 per cent 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 per cent in the last five years to 2017, from 38,081 to 124,341 – followed by Blackness Castle (181.7 per cent), which features as Black Jack Randall’s headquarters, and Glasgow Cathedral (66.8 per cent), which played a French hospital.

Research into the Outlander affect found that the dedicated Outlander page on was the tourism body’s fifth most popular webpage in the time between the broadcast of Season Three and Season Four of the TV series – with the country’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.

“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,” said Diana Gabaldon.

The Scottish Thistle Awards is Scotland’s premier awards for the industry and recognises those individuals and businesses who have made a huge impact on Scottish tourism.

“The impact of Outlander on Scotland has been truly extraordinary. It has been amazing to see the global reaction to Diana Gabaldon’s stories of adventure, romance and Scottish history – and the subsequent television adaptation – and seeing it translate into visitor growth for Scotland,” said Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland.

“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 USA 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.”