9% rise in visitor numbers at UK attractions, according to research

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15th April 2019 11:00 - Museums, Libraries and Archives

9% rise in visitor numbers at UK attractions:  According to the latest visitor figures, the number of people visiting UK attractions such as museums, galleries, castles and zoos has increased by an average of 8.68% since 2017  - despite the UK seeing a 4% fall in overseas tourists.

The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) released its members' visitor figures for 2018 which revealed Tate Modern was the most visited attraction in the UK with 5,868,562  visitors, overtaking the British Museum who recorded 5,828,552. It is the first time the British Museum has been toppled from the top spot since 2007. However, despite the British Museum's decrease of 1.3%, an additional 9 million UK visitors have seen objects from the museum at other sites as part of touring exhibitions.

In third place was the National Gallery (5,735,831 visitors) followed by the Natural History Museum in fourth with 5,226,320 - an increase of 18%. The remainder of the top ten were also based in the capital, with visitors totalling 67, 640, 804 - an increase of 3.37% on 2017's figures. 

The total number of visitors to ALVA's 249 sites across the UK IN 2018 was 138, 823, 297.

Regional visitors increase

The top attractions within each country of the UK outside of London were The National Museum of Scotland (2.2 million), Chester Zoo (2 million - England), Giant’s Causeway (1million – Northern Ireland) and in Wales, Bodnant Garden (0.3million).

The research also found the number of Brits visiting regional attractions has increased in many areas. Regions which have been able to host Dippy the Dinosaur on his three-year UK tour have seen visitor numbers increase, one example being in Birmingham where the ‘Dippy phenomenon’ has helped visitor numbers soar by 38% at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.

Another visitor success story has been seen at Liverpool’s World Museum, which saw an increase in visitors of 111% after welcoming an exhibition displaying a regiment of soldiers dating back 2,200 years. The arrival of the Terracotta Warriors saw the museum become the most visited in England outside of the capital.

Scotland saw the largest rise in the UK for the 7th consecutive year, up 19%, which has been attributed to an increase in tourism, investment from the Scottish Government, lottery funding, an increase in tourism due to locations being seen in TV and film and the new V&A Museum in Dundee. The  National Museum of Scotland ranked 11th in the UK overall and was the most visited attraction outside  of London, increasing its visitors by 3% on last year. In 12th position was also a Scottish attraction - Edinburgh Castle with a 2% increase. 

*Image Tate Modern via ALVA



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