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

Customer numbers on the UK’s main sights are nonetheless virtually 1 / 4 decrease than earlier than the pandemic, because of an ideal storm of Covid, Brexit, vitality costs and the broader monetary disaster, in response to 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 enhance as “in all probability nearly as good as we might hope for”, given the unprecedented challenges dealing with its members, which embrace 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 fully out of our management, all on the identical time,” he advised Enterprise Issues. “Not simply Covid, but in addition the price of residing disaster, vitality prices and the hangover of Brexit.

“Staffing and recruitment is without doubt one of the best 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 residence nations within the EU or additional overseas.

“That complete basket of uncontrollable variables has by no means hit us like that earlier than. So it’s nonetheless outstanding that our customer sights are rising, surviving, thriving each day, despite all of that.”

Whereas some sights, notably these which can be free and people in London, noticed robust year-on-year development, the image was combined elsewhere within the UK. The capital noticed the largest 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 general (after Windsor Nice Park) was the Pure Historical past Museum, which noticed a 196% enhance 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 virtually 2 million guests, was in ninth place general. Guests to Titanic Belfast leapt by 177% to 624,000.

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

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

He welcomed the extension of tax aid for museums and galleries on this week’s finances, however known as on the federal government for better assist with vitality prices (“the best menace to our monetary sustainability”), a discount in VAT for customer sights, and a renewed advertising and marketing 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 is 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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