Visits to visitor attractions in Britain have grown a further 3% in the last year, according to the 2007 Visitor Attractions survey from VisitBritain.The Tower of London is revealed as the most popular paid for attraction in 2007 with over 2 million visits, followed by St Paul’s Cathedral (1.6 million visitors) and Pleasure Beach in Great Yarmouth (1.4 million visitors). Xscape Milton Keynes becomes the country’s most visited free attraction with 6.9 million visits in 2007, followed by Blackpool Pleasure Beach (5.5 million visitors) and the British Museum (5.4 million visitors).
Mercedes-Benz World in Surrey, with 306,000 visits shows an increase of 418% and is the survey’s largest year on year visitor figures rise in the country. Other notable increases are the 100% year on year increase in visitor numbers of the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire; Cragside House, Gardens and Estate in Northumberland with an increase of 80% and the Royal Air Force Museum in Shropshire with an increase of 70%.
The majority of attraction sectors have grown in popularity with visitor and heritage centres showing the biggest increase of 12%. The leisure and theme park sector has shown an increase of 3%, as does the museums and art galleries sector. In a year where rainfall was well above average, particularly during the summer months, the outdoor attraction sector have also recorded a boom, with country parks showing an 8% increase, farms and gardens showing a 5% increase each and wildlife attractions and zoo sector also increasing by 4%.
Tom Wright, VisitBritain chief executive, said:
“This research demonstrates the demand for all types of attractions in England, and that consumers are getting less likely to be swayed by the influence of the weather. Come rain or shine our world renowned attractions offer something for all our visitors, whatever the season. Current campaigns are encouraging even more visitors to enjoy our attractions in these challenging times.”
The survey results coincide with VisitBritain’s Visitor Attraction Conference at Queen Elizabeth II Conference centre in London, where representatives of Britain’s visitor attractions will convene to discuss best practice in the industry and issues and challenges for the year ahead.
THE REGIONAL PICTURE
Visits to attractions in the North East were up 3%. Notable visitor increases were to Cragside House, Gardens and Estate (up 80%), High Force Waterfall (up 30%) and the Biscuit Factory (up 12.5%). Bishop Aukland Town Hall was the most visited free attraction in 2007 with 250,000 visits. The Alnwick Garden is the region’s most visited paid for attraction in 2007 with 548,527 visits.
Visits to attractions in the North West were down 4% in 2007 overall. However growth of attractions in the region remain strong with Congleton Park showing visits up 26% and Tate Liverpool reporting year on year growth of 16%. With 5.5 million visitors Blackpool Pleasure Beach remains the top free entrance attraction both for the region and Windermere Lake Cruises is the region’s most visited paid for attraction in 2007 with 1.3 million visitors.
Yorkshire / The Humber
Visits to attractions in Yorkshire and the Humber showed an increase of 2% in 2007. Notable increases were to The Priory Church of St Mary and St Cuthburt with a 14% increase and the RHS Garden Harlow Carr with an increase of 13%. Flamingo Land Theme Park and Zoo is the regions most visited paid for attraction with 1.3 million visits in 2007. Xscape Castleford was the most visited free attraction in the region in 2007 with 3.7 million visits.
Visits to attractions in the East Midlands show an increase of 3% in 2007. Markeaton Craft Park Village was the most visited free attraction in 2007 with 1 million visits. Bradgate Country Park is the regions most visited paid for attraction in 2007 with 900,000 visits. Rosliston Forestry Centre saw the largest increase in visitors from 2006 with 35% and New Walk Museum and Art Gallery also saw an increase in visitor numbers of 25%.
Visits to attractions in the West Midlands showed an overall increase of 4%. Malvern Hills is the most visited free attraction in 2007 with 1 million visits. Cadburys World is the region’s most visited paid for attraction in 2007 with 503,617 visits. Other notable increases to attractions in the region are to the National Memorial Arboretum with an increase of 100% and the Royal Air Force Museum, with an increase of 70%.
East of England
The East of England showed the highest percentage of visitor numbers to attractions in 2007, with an increase of 9%. River Lea Country Park was the most visited free attraction in 2007 with 4.5 million visits, an increase of 29%. Woburn Safari Park is the region’s most visited paid for attraction in 2007 with 469,181 visits.
Visits to attractions in London showed an overall increase of 5%. The British Museum remains the most visited free attraction with 5.4 million visits, an increase of 11%, making it the third most visited free attraction in the country. The Tower of London is the most visited paid for London attraction in the survey, with 2 million visits. The Wallace Collection saw the largest increase in visitors in 2007 with 29%, followed by London Zoo with 25%.
Visits to attractions in the south East showed an increase of 4%. Xscape Milton Keynes was the most visited free attraction in 2007 with 6.7 million visits, meaning it becomes the most popular free attraction in England. Canterbury Cathedral is the region’s most visited paid for attraction in 2007 with 1 million visits. Other notable increases in the region are to Mercedes-Benz World, which shows an increase of 418% and Waddesdon Manor with an increase of 22%.
Visits to attractions in the South West showed an overall decrease of 1%. The Ashton Court Estate is the most visited free attraction in 2007 with 1.7 million visits, a 6% increase from 2006. The Eden Project remains the region’s most popular paid attraction 2007 with 1.1 million visits. Other notable increases in the region were to Paignton Zoo (up 10%) and Bath Abbey and West Somerset Railway (both up 9%).