HER kilted characters are seen on TV screens around the world.

But tonight US author Diana Gabaldon will be the star of Scotland’s “tourism Oscars” as she is honoured for Outlander’s impact on the country’s economy.

Attractions used in the making of the TV adaptation of her time travel romance series – which follows an English holidaymaker in the Highlands as she slips back from the 1940s to the Jacobite era – have seen visitor numbers rise by 70% in the past five years, hitting 1.5 million combined.

At Doune Castle, known to viewers of the Scotland-shot series as Castle Leoch, some time home of hero Jamie Fraser, traffic has risen by almost 230% since 2013, taking gate numbers from 38,100 to 124,300.

A similar 182% surge has been seen at 15th century Blackness Castle near Linlithgow after it doubled as the headquarters of the villainous Black Jack Randall. At Glasgow Cathedral, which was used to depict a French hospital, visits are up by 60%.

That boost coincides with the Sony Pictures take on Gabaldon’s tales, which span eight novels and nine spin-off titles.

Versions have been published in 40 languages, with more than 35m copies printed worldwide.

Tonight Gabaldon will receive a special “International Contribution to Scottish Tourism” award from VisitScotland at the Scottish Thistle Awards, which recognise excellence in the industry.

She said: “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.”

Arizona native Gabaldon, a former academic with qualifications in zoology, marine biology and quantitative behavioural ecology, will also be appearing in conversation with author James Crawford, chair of Publishing Scotland, at Hopetoun House near Queensferry tomorrow.

VisitScotland, which is marking its 50th anniversary, says its own dedicated Outlander page, which includes information on castles, standing stones and ancestry, has proven popular with the public.

In a survey, almost all Scots visitor attractions said screen tourism is a positive for their industry, with a fifth of attractions located adjacent to filming locations reporting an increase in footfall.

Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, said: “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.

“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.”

Roughead went on: “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,” he added.

Rebecca Brooks, chair of the Scottish Thistle Awards, commented: “We are delighted to honour Diana Gabaldon for the role she has played in contributing to Scotland’s growing tourism sector.”