Visitors to the UK’s leading attractions down 25% on pre-Covid numbers

Customer numbers on the UK’s main points of interest are nonetheless nearly 1 / 4 decrease than earlier than the pandemic, because of an ideal storm of Covid, Brexit, power costs and the broader monetary disaster, in accordance with the sector’s commerce physique.

Figures printed on Friday by the Affiliation of Main Customer Sights present that whereas the variety of visits to its websites rose by 69% in 2022 in contrast with the yr earlier than, this was nonetheless 23% decrease than in 2019.

Bernard Donoghue, the organisation’s director, described the annual improve as “most likely nearly as good as we may hope for”, given the unprecedented challenges dealing with its members, which embody the UK’s most well-known museums, galleries, cathedrals and parks.

“We as a sector have by no means been hit by so many variables, that are utterly out of our management, all on the identical time,” he advised Enterprise Issues. “Not simply Covid, but in addition the price of residing disaster, power prices and the hangover of Brexit.

“Staffing and recruitment is without doubt one of the biggest challenges to tourism and hospitality, and a few of that nice problem is changing folks … who left throughout Covid – however partly due to Brexit – to return to their house nations within the EU or additional overseas.

“That entire basket of uncontrollable variables has by no means hit us like that earlier than. So it’s nonetheless outstanding that our customer points of interest are rising, surviving, thriving every day, regardless of all of that.”

Whereas some points of interest, significantly these which are free and people in London, noticed sturdy year-on-year development, the image was blended elsewhere within the UK. The capital noticed the most important development on common, with visits up by 152%, with Scotland up by 128% and Northern Eire up 120% on 2021.

Essentially the most visited indoor attraction and second most visited total (after Windsor Nice Park) was the Pure Historical past Museum, which noticed a 196% improve in guests to 4.6 million in 2022. The British Museum, up 209% with 4.1 million, moved from sixth place to 3rd.

The Nationwide Museum of Scotland, up 199% to nearly 2 million guests, was in ninth place total. Guests to Titanic Belfast leapt by 177% to 624,000.

In London, the continued shortage of tourists from China and the far east had been a major problem in 2022, mentioned Donoghue, including that elsewhere, paid-for points of interest and significantly these exterior metropolis centres had felt the brunt of petrol costs and the broader monetary disaster.

“When petrol prices have been an actual concern, metropolis centres did properly, as a result of they may depend on folks getting there from public transport. However distant locations have been being affected by folks saying, ‘really, it’s going to value me fairly some huge cash to drive there.’”

He welcomed the extension of tax reduction for museums and galleries on this week’s funds, however known as on the federal government for better help with power prices (“the best menace to our monetary sustainability”), a discount in VAT for customer points of interest, and a renewed advertising push for abroad vacationers.

“I’ve to say, the worldwide media protection of the Queen’s funeral and the forthcoming coronation will assist that enormously. It’s going to make a distinction to these people who find themselves drawn to the UK due to these issues,” he mentioned.

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