Tate Modern is top visitor attraction in England, according to survey

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15th August 2019 17:59 - Museums, Libraries and Archives

Tate Modern is top visitor attraction in England: Findings from Visit England’s annual Attractions Survey have revealed that the Tate Modern welcomed the most visitors through its doors last year, with 5.87 million attendees recorded. The British Museum as a result slipped from the top spot with 5.83 million visitors.

The annual survey invites all visitor attractions in England to take part and records details such as visitor numbers as well as visitor profiles and entrance fees. 

The 2018 survey found that visits to attractions in England, as well as revenue, had increased by 2%. The same research also found that museums and galleries have seen a 6% rise in visitor numbers nationally since 2017, boosted in part by overseas tourists. 

The number of people visiting places of worship has also increased with 3% more visitors in 2018. 

While some attractions in the capital have seen an increase in visitor numbers, others have seen numbers fall. Tate Britain saw a significant drop falling by 28% since 2017 when it achieved record-breaking visitor numbers. 

Among those seeing an increase was the V&A, with visitor numbers rising by 4% since 2016 - helped in part by temporary exhibitions such as Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up, which showcased a collection of clothing and personal possessions owned by the celebrated Mexican artist. Indeed, according to the latest Visit England research, almost half the visitors to attractions are motivated by a temporary installation or exhibition. The Royal Academy of Arts also saw visitor numbers increase by 50% following its £56million renovation and expansion, which opened to the public in May 2018. 

The most popular attractions in England

While Tate Modern edged ahead of the British Museum in the latest survey, the third most visited attraction in England was the National Gallery (5.74 million), followed by the Natural History Museum (5.23 million) and outside the capital, Brighton Pier (4.89 million).

The remainder of the top ten was occupied by London attractions; the V&A, the Science Museum, Somerset House, the National Portrait Gallery and the British Library.

Top paid-for attractions

When it comes to the most popular paid-for attractions, the Tower of London continued its reign at the top of the chart, with 2.86 million visitors in 2018, followed by Chester Zoo – also a non-mover with 1.97 million visitors recorded. In third position was Kew Gardens (1.86 million), followed by St Paul’s Cathedral (1.66 million), Windermere Lake Cruises, in the Lake District (1.63 million) and the Royal Academy of Arts (1.6 million). Wiltshire's Stonehenge had 1.56 million visitors.

Also in the top ten were Westminster Abbey, Bath’s Roman Baths and Pump Room and ZSL London Zoo.

Visitor Attraction Trends in England 2018 – Full Report 

Annual Survey of visits to visitor attractions   



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