A Vintage Opportunity – Preston Guild

23 July 2012

Increased Visits to England’s Attractions in 2011

show sector’s potential for future growth

According to VisitEngland’s Annual Visitor Attractions Survey released today, admissions to England’s visitor attractions rose by 3 per cent in 2011, demonstrating the importance of attractions to the visitor economy, and highlighting the potential for further growth in this important sector of the tourism industry.

The research shows that despite challenging economic conditions, many of those businesses who managed to invest in marketing last year have reaped the benefits. Attractions which invested more money in marketing in 2011 than the previous year saw an 8 per cent uplift in visitors and a 17 per cent rise in revenue, whereas those who spent less on marketing than previously saw 2 per cent more visitors, but revenue remained flat.

James Berresford, VisitEngland’s Chief Executive, commented:

“This research clearly shows the potential that the attractions sector has to help grow the visitor economy in England.  Investment into the sector is key, and businesses which have been able to invest and spend money on marketing did well in 2011.  We’ve had a very challenging start to the summer this year and we know the weather in particular has affected many businesses.  However, this will be a summer like no other!  There’s never been a better time for Londoners, Brits and our overseas visitors to visit our attractions as they are all providing a world class welcome, they have fewer queues and many have longer opening hours over the Olympic period.” 

The 3 per cent uplift was largely driven by attractions charging an admission fee, which saw an increase of 6 per cent. The Tower of London retained the top spot in the paid for category with 2.6 million visits, followed by Westminster Abbey with 1.9 million visits (an increase of over a third, likely to be due in part to its central role in last year’s Royal Wedding), St Paul’s Cathedral, Flamingo Land Theme Park and Zoo and Chester Zoo. 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 and Tatton Park – however, wildlife parks and gardens also performed well.  

Visits to free attractions were up 1 per cent overall in 2011, following a 6 per cent increase in 2010. Continuing last year’s trend, the majority of the top twenty free attractions in England were museums or art galleries. The British Museum marked its fourth consecutive year as the most-visited free attraction in England with 5.8 million visitors, followed by the National Gallery, Natural History Museum, Tate Modern and the Science Museum.  This trend was evident across the country, with regional attractions including the National Railway Museum in York, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and the newly-opened Museum of Liverpool all making the top twenty.   

Widespread use of new media was also evident with 77 per cent of attractions running a website. Two-thirds (66 per cent) of attractions offered some form of digital communications, with 51 per cent running a Facebook page, 29 per cent running a Twitter account and 24 per cent sending out an e-newsletter. 

As seen in previous years, certain types of attraction experienced more growth than others, with outdoor attractions performing particularly well – perhaps reflecting the unseasonably warm weather seen in September and October, which effectively extended the summer season for many. Wildlife attractions and zoos grew by 9 per cent compared to 2010, as did gardens, whereas visits to farms were up 5 per cent and country parks up 4 per cent. Places of worship performed also well with an increase of 7 per cent, marking a fourth consecutive year of growth.

Regionally, the strongest performance was in the East of England (up 7 per cent), followed by the South East (up 6 per cent) and Yorkshire and the Humber (5 per cent).

Bernard Donoghue, Chief Executive Association of Leading Visitor Attractions said:

“The figures demonstrate that for Brits who holidayed at home in record numbers last year and for overseas visitors who came to England in record numbers last year, our iconic attractions are a 'must see' and a 'must experience'.

Even at a time of economic restraint those attractions which have invested in refurbishment, new exhibitions, new marketing, new catering and retail products have seen a real return on investment and more money for the visitor economy.

The global media coverage of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, the Olympic and Paralympic Games provide us with the world's largest ever, tourism advert to the world's largest ever TV and digital audience and will inspire overseas visitors as well as us Brits to visit our world-class attractions".

Tables of top twenty attractions follow below

TOP 20 FREE ATTRACTIONS IN ENGLAND

Rank

Name of Attraction

Region

2010 Visitors

2011 Visitors

% Change 10-11

1

British Museum

London

5,842,138

5,848,534

+0.1%

2

National Gallery

London

4,954,914

5,253,216

+6.0%

3

Natural History Museum

London

4,647,613

4,873,275

+4.9%

4

Tate Modern

London

5,061,172

4,802,387

-5.1%

5

Science Museum

London

2,757,917

2,894,850

+5.0%

6

Victoria and Albert Museum

London

2,629,065

2,789,400

+6.1%

7

National Portrait Gallery

London

1,819,442

1,880,104

+3.3%

8

Old Royal Naval College

London

1,330,260

1,673,998 E

+25.8%

9

Tate Britain

London

1,665,291

1,488,358

-10.6%

10

British Library

London

1,454,612

1,484,900

+2.1%

11

Walsall Arboretum

WM

1,000,000

1,000,000 E

0.0%

12

Imperial War Museum

London

1,069,358

973,445

-9.0%

13

Merseyside Maritime Museum

NW

1,027,475

883,295

-14.0%

14

Royal Observatory Greenwich

London

1,576,640

879,549

-44.2%

15

Museums Sheffield: Millennium Gallery

Yorks & Humber

879,598

869,410

-1.2%

16

National Maritime Museum

London

804,988

848,080

+5.4%

17

World Museum Liverpool

NW

748,065

771,380

+3.1%

18

Ashmolean Museum

SE

1,042,350

738,339

-29.2%

19

National Railway Museum

Yorks & Humber

620,959

710,741

+14.5%

20

Museum of Liverpool

NW

N/A

667,526

N/A

TOP 20 PAID FOR ATTRACTIONS IN ENGLAND

Rank

Name of Attraction

Region

2010 Visitors

2011 Visitors

% Change 10-11

Entry

1

Tower of London

London

2,413,214

2,554,746

+5.9%

£17.00

2

Westminster Abbey

London

1,394,427

1,899,956

+36.3%

£16.00

3

St Paul's Cathedral

London

1,892,467

1,819,925

-3.8%

£12.50

4

Flamingo Land Theme Park and Zoo

Yorks & Humber

1,268,619

1,427,193

+12.5%

£27.00

5

Chester Zoo

NW

1,154,285

1,425,319

+23.5%

£16.90

6

Windermere Lake Cruises, Bowness

NW

1,312,423

1,350,081

+2.9%

£7.00

7

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Gardens

London

1,140,690

1,188,933

+4.2%

£13.90

8

Stonehenge

SW

1,009,973

1,099,656

+8.9%

£7.50

9

ZSL London Zoo

London

1,011,257

1,090,741

+7.9%

£18.60

10

Houses of Parliament & Big Ben

London

967,371

1,054,151

+9.0%

£15.00

11

Canterbury Cathedral

SE

1,033,463

1,039,922   E

+0.6%

£9.00

12

RHS Garden Wisley

SE

803,986

1,032,872

+28.5%

£9.50

13

Eden Project

SW

1,000,511

1,001,774

+0.1%

£16.00

14

Willen Lake and Park

SE

1,000,000

1,000,000   E

0.0%

Various

15

Roman Baths

SW

905,751

975,096

+7.7%

£12.50

16

Colchester Zoo

East

755,136

881,362  

+16.7%

£16.99

17

Tatton Park

NW

782,000

845,000      E

+8.1%

£5.00

18

Chatsworth House

East Mids

716,616

722,906

+0.9%

£16.00

19

Brean Leisure Park

SW

650,000

650,000      E

0.0%

£19.99

20

Leeds Castle

SE

559,261

596,025

+6.6%

£18.50

ATTRACTION CATEGORY        

CATEGORY

  % CHANGE 10/11

Country Parks

+4

Farms

+5

Gardens

+9

Historic houses  / castles

+6

Other historic properties

+9

Leisure / theme parks

+2

Museums / art galleries

-1

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