Loch Lomond Shores was the fifth most visited free attraction in Scotland last year.

The centre, which boasts a blend of shops, cafes, restaurants, outdoor activities and the The Loch Lomond Sea Life Aquarium, attracted 1.1 million visitors - outstripping other top free attractions such as Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery, the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh and the Gretna Green Famous Blacksmiths Shop.

However, visitor number at the Shores were down a whopping 19.1 per cent.

The figures were compiled by experts from Glasgow Caledonian University's Moffat Centre for Travel and Tourism who analysed the performance of 680 paid and free tourist sites for the 2018 Visitor Attraction Monitor.

They reported that, overall, the number of visits - including both free and paid for - fell by 0.5 per cent to 61,419,965, largely due to indoor attractions being affected by record-breaking temperatures over the summer months, but tourism remains strong.

However, Loch Lomond Shores say lack of events and festivals at their site accounted for the decline.

A spokesperson said: “While still in the top ten of free visitor attractions in Scotland with well over a million visitors, 2018 did see a decrease in visitors to Loch Lomond Shores which was due to the site not hosting any large events or festivals.

"However, visitor numbers are set to rise in 2019 with the reintroduction of both Springfest and The Loch Lomond Food and Drink Festival as well as a busy schedule of events planned from Spring onwards.”

The top free attraction was the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh with 2.2 million visitors and Edinburgh Castle was the top paid attraction with 2.1 million visitors.

The university analysis showed that in 2018 attractions in Glasgow suffered due to the hot summer, with visitor numbers to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum dropping 19.1 per cent to 1,054,562, the Riverside Museum down 7.4 per cent to 1,254,498, and Glasgow Science Centre falling 6.2 per cent to 402,111.

Professor John Lennon, director of the Moffat Centre, said: "With Kelvingrove, it's not rocket science. If we have a good summer, indoor attractions reduce in visitation.

“It's very hard for a museum to boom when Scotland enjoys its best summer in 20 years.

“Nationally, I wouldn't be too worried by a minor downward movement, of 0.5 per cent, as we are coming off the back of three years of an unheralded increase in visitor numbers."