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British museums raise £1bn per annum from overseas tourists

British museums raise £1bn per annum from overseas tourists

The UK’s major museums and art galleries generated £1 billion in revenue from overseas visitors in 2009, according to VisitBritain.

Of the 30 million international visitors to the UK last year, over a third made a trip to a leading cultural institution, according to a new report by VisitBritain.

French tourists paid the most visits to museums, while holidaymakers from the US favoured art galleries.

Visitor numbers at Tate Modern and the British Museum were both down on 2008 but the National Gallery rose 9 percent to become one of London’s top draws. The National History Museum also posted a similar rise on the previous year.

The period between July and September is the most popular time to visit museums and galleries, which experience a dip in visitors between January and March.


The figures come from a VisitBritain survey carried out by the Office for National Statistics.

“This survey showcases the international appeal of Britain’s culture and heritage,” said Sandie Dawe, chief executive of VisitBritain.

“We are fortunate in the authenticity of what we have to promote and the connections that our rich culture makes across the world.”

VisitBritain works with the government, the tourism industry and various strategic partners to promote Britain in 35 key overseas markets.