The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) releases its members’ visitor figures for 2009 today, with the vast majority of members reporting an increase in the number of people visiting the country’s foremost museums, galleries, heritage sites, cathedrals, gardens, zoos and leisure parks. The median increase across the sector was 10.9%. The increase was partly due to greater numbers of overseas visitors attracted by the weak pound, and British tourists staying at home. It was particularly marked in those attractions which have free entry, as people sought good value days out in the recession.
The UK’s visitor attractions remain optimistic about the immediate future, with 82% of them expecting to maintain or increase visitor figures. (This compares to 60% feeling optimistic last year). Some 53% of the members polled think their revenues will actually increase in 2010. However, there is caution about how the sector can continue to be sustained in the longer term.
In this election year, ALVA members were asked about which pressing needs the incoming government should address, to ensure that tourism continues to provide a much-needed boost to the UK economy. By far the most important change attractions would like to see is a change to incentivising tourists to visit and stay in Britain, rather than taxing tourists, with 35% citing this as their top priority for the next parliament. Members would also like to see a reduction in VAT rates on admission tickets, and enhanced government funding to enable VisitBritain to promote the UK to potential tourists abroad.
“The tourism industry played a vital role in Britain’s economy last year, with leading attractions working hard to maintain visitor figures and revenue in a challenging fiscal environment. As the political parties prepare for the General Election, they should consider how best to help the industry maximise the revenue it can generate and the additional jobs it can create.” comments Robin Broke, Director of ALVA.
The attached listing, comparing 2009’s visitor figures with 2008’s shows how attractions have held their own despite a very challenging environment.