Visits to England’s attractions increased by 4% 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%. Farms are the fastest growing visitor attraction category with visitor numbers up by 10%. The most visited attraction in the paid for category remained same as in the last year.
The growth of visitor numbers to England’s tourist attractions 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%)
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 the 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.