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More Visitors to Attractions in 2014

Wednesday, 5th August 2015

Visits to England’s attractions increased by 4% in 2014, consolidating the sector’s return to growth following 2013’s positive figures, according to VisitEngland’s Annual Attractions Survey released today.

Key figures include:

  • Attractions reported a healthy 4% annual increase in total visits in 2014
  • All regions across England experienced growth in 2014, but the East of England saw the most significant increase with visitor numbers up by 10%
  • The North East and North West experienced above average growth of 7% and 6% respectively
  • Farms are the fastest growing visitor attraction category with visitor numbers up by 10%
  • Warmer weather in 2014 supported greater growth in coastal regions – up 7% YOY
  • All sectors, aside from places of worship experienced growth in visitor numbers
  • Gross revenue across all attraction categories has increased by 5% YOY
  • London attractions saw visitor numbers increase below the national average, but still achieve growth of +2%
  • Since 1989 across England attractions as a whole, visits have increased 48% in that time.

The figures continue the growth of visitor numbers to England’s tourist attractions in 2013, demonstrating the important contribution attractions make to the tourism industry and the English economy, which is worth £106bn in total.  The benefits were felt across the country; with regions across England seeing an increase in visitor numbers. The East of England saw the biggest rise – up 10% YOY, but the North West (+6%), North East (+7%), West Midlands (+5%) and the South East (+6%) all experienced above average growth (4%), indicating the important role attractions have in enticing people outside of London, to explore the country and experience what England has to offer.

As seen in previous years, certain types of attractions experienced more growth than others. Country parks, gardens, wildlife attractions/ zoos and historic houses / castles all experienced an increase in visitor numbers; with all attraction category sectors aside from places of worship seeing an increase in 2014.  Farms and heritage centres enjoyed the most significant growth increase however, 10%+ YOY. This was supported by a number of farms across the country enjoying double digit growth including; Puxton Park in the South West (+25%) West Lodge Rural Centre, West Midlands (+20%) and the Donkey Sanctuary in the South West (+26%)

(Photo: Avenham & Miller Parks, Preston, Lancashire)

The research shows that those attraction businesses investing in marketing and digital platforms have seen an increase in visitor numbers. Visitor admissions increased by +7% among those increasing their marketing spend, compared with 2% of those who had cut back. This is highlighted by a third of farms increasing their marketing spend and achieving above average revenue growth of 7%.

83% of attractions now use at least one form of digital communication (outside of a website) and a quarter of sites in this year’s list offered an online booking facility for tickets / events – up from 21% in 2013.

Gross revenue across all attractions increased 5% YOY. Standout regional increases above the average included London (+7%), North West (+8%) and Yorkshire (+8%). Contributing to this was a 4% increase in adult admission fees for those charging for admission. Looking forward the survey also revealed that more attractions are planning to take on additional full-time staff.

The Tower of London remains the most visited attraction in the paid for category with 3.1 million visits, an increase of 6.5% on last year, followed by Hylands House and Estate in Essex with 1.9 million visits and Westminster Abbey with 1.8 million visits.  As seen in previous years, many of the most-visited paid for attractions were part of our rich history and heritage, such as Stonehenge, Houses of Parliament & Big Ben, the Roman Baths and Tatton Park.

Visits to free attractions were up 4% overall in 2014. The British Museum marked its seventh consecutive year as the most visited free attraction in England with 6.7 million visitors, followed by the National Gallery (6.4 million visitors, up 6.4% YOY). The Tate Modern saw an impressive growth of 18.4% to 5.8 million visitors in 2014, but The Imperial War Museum saw the greatest increase on the list, with 915,000 visitors – up 153% YOY due to their reopening in 2014. 

Across the country, the most visited free attractions regionally include Brighton Pier, The Library of Birmingham, Ashmolean Museum and Avenham and Miller Park in the North West. 

VisitEngland, Chief Executive James Berresford, said: “It is wonderful that attractions across the country are experiencing an increase in visitor numbers and the benefits are being felt across regions. We know that England has a fantastic range of unique and outstanding product, which generate high levels of satisfaction for visitors. Our attractions are core to England’s tourism offer; contributing to economic growth and employment and we are fortunate to have such a wonderful and wide variety available to suit all visitors”.

Tourism Minister Tracey Crouch said: “I'm delighted that more visitors are enjoying England's world-class attractions, especially after English tourism experienced a record-breaking start to the year. I'm looking forward to working with the tourism industry to build on this success with the government's new five point plan for tourism - which aims to attract even more tourists to experience our amazing attractions, create great careers, and help local economic growth."

Most visited free attractions – England 2014

*Note: Some Parks excluded as numbers may include visitors to the park only     E = Estimate   ^Disruption to attendance in 2013

Rank

Name of attraction

Region

Category

2013 Visitors

2014 Visitors

% Change 13-14

1

British Museum

London

Museums & Art Galleries

6,701,036

6,695,213

-0.1%

2

National Gallery

London

Museums & Art Galleries

6,031,574

6,416,724

+6.4%

3

Tate Modern

London

Museums & Art Galleries

4,884,939

5,785,427

+18.4%

4

Natural History Museum 

London

Museums & Art Galleries

5,356,884

5,388,295

+0.6%

5

Brighton Pier

South East

Other

4,000,000 (E)

4,500,000 (E)

+12.5%

6

Victoria and Albert Museum, South Kensington

London

Museums & Art Galleries

3,738,434

3,651,450

-2.3%

7

Science Museum

London

Museums & Art Galleries

3,316,075

3,356,072

+1.2%

8

The Library of Birmingham

West Midlands

Museums & Art Galleries

NA

2,414,860

NA

9

National Portrait Gallery

London

Museums & Art Galleries

2,014,636

2,062,502

+2.4%

10

Old Royal Naval College

London

Historic Properties

1,788,712

1,750,177

-2.2%

11

British Library

London

Museums & Art Galleries

1,475,382

1,627,599

+10.3%

12

National Maritime Museum

London

Museums & Art Galleries

1,437,725

1,516,258

+5.5%

13

Tate Britain

London

Museums & Art Galleries

1,378,272

1,357,878

-1.5%

14

Bristol Museums, Galleries & Archives

South West

Museums & Art Galleries

1,300,503

1,037,528

-20.2%

15

mac Birmingham

West Midlands

Other

888,984

996,523

+12.1%

16

Imperial War Museum London^

London

Museums & Art Galleries

360,886

914,774

+153.5%

17

Museum of London

London

Museums & Art Galleries

739,512

902,922

+22.1%

18

Ashmolean Museum

South East

Museums & Art Galleries

754,957

875,407

+16.0%

19

Horniman Museum and Gardens

London

Museums & Art Galleries

844,647

870,051

+3.0%

20

Avenham and Miller Park

North West

Gardens

708,100 (E)

795,621 (E)

+12.4%

Most visited paid attractions – England 2014

*Note: DK = Information not available (Don’t know)   E = Estimate

Rank

Name of Attraction

Region

Category

2013 Visitors

2014 Visitors

% Change 13-14

Charge for Admission

1

Tower of London

London

Historic Properties

2,894,698

3,081,939

+6.5%

£20.00

2

Hylands House and Estate

East of England

Historic Properties

DK

1,903,480

NA

£3.80

3

Westminster Abbey

London

Places of Worship

2,020,637

1,786,106

-11.6%

£18.00

4

St Paul's Cathedral

London

Places of Worship

2,138,130

1,782,741

-16.6%

£16.50

5

Flamingo Land Theme Park and Zoo

Yorkshire & Humberside

Leisure & Theme Parks

1,521,901

1,536,279

+0.9%

£35.00

6

Windermere Lake Cruises, Bowness

North West

Other

1,411,995

1,469,189

+4.1%

£7.50

7

Chester Zoo

North West

Wildlife

1,409,246

1,432,867

+1.7%

£22.00

8

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Gardens

London

Gardens

1,325,917

1,367,997

+3.2%

£14.50

9

Stonehenge

South West

Historic Properties

1,241,296

1,346,177

+8.4%

£13.90

10

ZSL London Zoo

London

Wildlife

1,294,483

1,318,621

+1.9%

DK

11

Houses of Parliament

London

Historic Properties

1,041,000

1,253,326

+20.4%

DK

12

Chill Factore

North West

Other

1,094,463

1,138,484

+4.0%

£6.00

13

RHS Garden Wisley

South East

Gardens

964,078

1,023,715

+6.2%

DK

14

Roman Baths

South West

Museums & Art Galleries

996,143

1,015,135

+1.9%

£14.00

15

Canterbury Cathedral

South East

Places of Worship

1,001,266 (E)

1,004,573 (E)

+0.3%

£10.50

16

Eden Project

South West

Gardens

858,897 (E)

867,362 (E)

+1.0%

£23.50

17

Tatton Park

North West

Historic Properties

848,500

834,500

-1.6%

£6.00

18

Royal Academy of Arts

London

Museums & Art Galleries

1,015,505

824,793

-18.8%

£15.00

19

Royal Observatory Greenwich

London

Museums & Art Galleries

798,804

785,963

-1.6%

DK

20

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

South East

Visitor Centres

674,434

741,142

+9.9%

DK

ATTRACTION CATEGORY     

CATEGORY

  % CHANGE 13/14

Country Parks

+5%

Farms

+10%

Gardens

+5%

Historic houses  / castles

+5%

Other historic properties

+3%

Leisure / theme parks

+3%

Museums / art galleries

+3%

Steam / heritage railways

+4%

Visitor / heritage centre

+10%

Wildlife attractions / zoos

+6%

Workplaces

+1%

Places of worship

-5%

Other

+10%

REGIONAL BREAKDOWN

REGION

  % CHANGE 13/14

South East

+6%

East Midlands

+3%

North East

+7%

East

+10%

South West

+2%

West Midlands

+5%

Yorkshire / The Humber

+2%

London

+2%

North West

+6%

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