Published on : Wednesday, March 14, 2018
On the eve of English Tourism Week, the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) announced its members’ visitor figures for 2017 today (Friday, March 16, 2018), which saw an average increase of 7.3% on 2016 visitor numbers to UK attractions. Attractions in London saw an increase of 1.2% compared to 0.1% in 2016 and overall 129,954,657 visits were made to the top 238 ALVA sites in the UK.
64,270,071 people – nearly the equivalent of the total population of the UK – visited attractions in London and therefore it is no surprise that the Top 10 most visited attractions were all London based.
The British Museum continued to be the most popular visitor attraction overall for the 11th year running with 5,906,716 visitors and moving to 2nd place was Tate Modern with 5,656,004. In 3rd position was the National Gallery with 5,229,192 visitors and the Natural History Museum remained in 4th place with 4,434,520, and the V&A moved up 3 places to 5th due to a 26% increase in visitors, which they attributed to the launch of the new entrance and courtyard on Exhibition Road, including a new purpose-built gallery space, as well as phenomenal success of three exhibitions; Pink Floyd: Their Mortal Remains; Plywood: Material of the Modern World and Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion. Tate Britain saw a 64% increase in visitors – resulting in a rise to 15th place from 29th – which they credited in part to the hugely successful David Hockney Exhibition in the first half of the year (1,777,877). The Museum of London Docklands saw a 21% increase, which they attributed to Tunnel: The Archaeology of Crossrail exhibition and Kensington Palace saw a 62.4% due to Diana: Her Fashion Story. Another Historic Royal Palace that saw an increase was Hampton Court Palace. Their Magic Garden continued to be a perfect day out for families with younger children (10.6%).
Bernard Donoghue, Director of ALVA, commented: “This has been another fantastic year for tourism, and attractions in particular. We know from research that overseas leisure visitors say that their primary reason to visit the UK are to experience our history, heritage and world-leading cultural institutions, and this is borne out by 2017 visitor numbers.
He continued: “A number of our London members have seen exceptional growth reflecting a record year for London tourism and the popularity of their temporary exhibitions, whilst some saw a decline in visitor numbers following 5 years of unprecedented growth in numbers. Economic factors have also had an impact on UK visitors to central London, with associated evidence that the costs linked to a visit such as travel and food and drink have played an important part in deciding where to visit. Undoubtedly there have been some concerns about global security issues, but economic concerns are playing a more crucial part. Other travel issues such as the semi-closure of Waterloo station in August as well as the inconsistent train service from South and South East England also deterred people from travelling to London and encouraged people to visit attractions nearer to home.
Our members such as English Heritage and National Trust, who offer membership schemes, which are seen as value for money in times of austerity, to a variety of sites saw an increase in visitors.
He continued; “2018 should be another exciting year for ALVA members with lots of innovative and fascinating events and developments. The Royal Academy of Arts is celebrating its 250th birthday with Charles I: King & Collector (open until April 15) and on May 19, they will open the doors to a newly transformed RA; to commemorate the Centenary of the RAF, the Royal Air Force Museum London will reopen three of their halls in the summer with new permanent exhibitions located in them. Scotland’s first design museum – V&A Dundee – will open on September 15 and Tate St Ives is now re-open and double its original size with an exciting permanent collection.
Tate Britain is currently hosting an exhibition All too Human: Bacon, Freud and a Century of Painting Life (until August 27); while Michael Jackson: On the Wall will show at the National Portrait Gallery between June 28 – October 21; The Credit Suisse Exhibition: Monet & Architecture opens at the National Gallery on April 9; the British Museum will host Rodin and the art of ancient Greece from April 26 while the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Wakehurst will be celebrating Easter with Peter Rabbit™ from March 30 to April 15.”