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Published on Thursday, August 19, 2021

England attractions suffer 65 per cent decline in visitors






England's visitor attractions were heavily impacted by the pandemic in 2020, with a 65% drop in visitors overall compared to 2019 and a 55% decline in revenue.


VisitEngland's Annual Visitor Attractions Survey for 2020 was published and points to site closures associated with lockdowns and opening restrictions for the decline of inbound and domestic tourism.


The fall in visitor numbers last year to England's attractions was most marked for museums and galleries, other historic properties and places of worship, many of which rely on overseas visitors.


Unsurprisngly, outdoor attractions such as country parks, wildlife attractions/zoos and gardens showed the smallest decreases.


Overall rural attractions fared best last year with admissions dropping by 47% compared to a 74% decline for urban sites.


Indoor attractions saw a larger decline in admissions in 2020 than outdoor with decreases of 76% and 43% respectively, partly due to lockdown restrictions delaying their reopening but also people being more hesitant to visit indoor attractions.


Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, was the most visited 'paid for' attraction in England last year with 1.2 million visitors, the first time a garden has taken the top spot, although numbers were still down almost half on 2019.


Next was Chester Zoo and RHS Garden Wisley.


The Tower of London, which had ranked first since 2009, saw an 85% decrease from three million visitors in 2019 to less than half a million


Tate Modern was the top free attraction with 1.4 million visitors, still a 77% drop on 2019.


Tourism Minister Nigel Huddleston said: "I know what a challenging year it's been for our brilliant tourism, leisure and hospitality sectors. Tourism is one of our country's greatest assets. It's great to see VisitEngland's Escape the Everyday campaign championing these opportunities as we build back better."


VisitEngland Director Andrew Stokes said: "The findings echo our consumer sentiment research which has consistently shown a preference for outdoor visitor attractions, highlighting that there is still a job to do to boost confidence in visiting city and indoor attractions.


The survey, which gathered information from 1301 English attractions, also showed the impact from the absence of international visitors in 2020 with a drop of 93% in overseas visitor numbers.


"Our world-class attractions are crucial to our tourism offer, boosting local economies across England and they need all of us to make sure they bounce back," Stokes added.


 

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