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

Customer numbers on the UK’s main sights are nonetheless nearly 1 / 4 decrease than earlier than the pandemic, due to an ideal storm of Covid, Brexit, power costs and the broader monetary disaster, based on 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 12 months earlier than, this was nonetheless 23% decrease than in 2019.

Bernard Donoghue, the organisation’s director, described the annual enhance as “most likely nearly as good as we may hope for”, given the unprecedented challenges going through 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 instructed Enterprise Issues. “Not simply Covid, but additionally the price of dwelling disaster, power prices and the hangover of Brexit.

“Staffing and recruitment is likely 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 dwelling international locations 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 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 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.

Probably 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 nearly 2 million guests, was in ninth place general. Guests to Titanic Belfast leapt by 177% to 624,000.

In London, the continuing 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 outdoors metropolis centres had felt the brunt of petrol costs and the broader monetary disaster.

“When petrol prices have been an actual situation, metropolis centres did nicely, 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 price me fairly some huge cash to drive there.’”

He welcomed the extension of tax reduction for museums and galleries on this week’s price range, however known as on the federal government for larger help with power prices (“the best risk 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 should make a distinction to these people who find themselves drawn to the UK due to these issues,” he mentioned.

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