Attractions industry news

27 Apr 2024

UK's Royal attractions had a bumper year in 2023

Numbers from the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, (ALVA) show that Royal attractions saw a huge increase in visitor numbers during 2023 – the coronation year of King Charles III.

Westminster Abbey had a 49 per cent increase of visitors and worshippers to 1,587,866,
Windsor Castle saw a 66 per cent increase to 1,374,607 visits, and Buckingham Palace
welcomed 501,499 visitors during its summer opening.

Overall, vsitors to ALVA's top 374 sites were up 19 per cent year-on-year in 2023 to 146.6 million as the sector continues its climb back to pre-pandemic levels.

Wales saw the biggest rise in visitors since the pandemic, with a 25 per cent increase
which was attributed, in part, to National Museum Wales joining ALVA in 2023.

London saw England’s sharpest increase with 24 per cent and Scotland tied with Northern Ireland with a 21 per cent increase. Outside London, the East of England and the West Midlands saw the biggest year-on-year growth with visitors up by 11 per cent and 10 per cent respectively.

Museums ranked as some of the UK’s most popular attractions, with The British Museum
coming out on top with 5,820,860 visitors in 2023 and London’s Natural History Museum came
in a close second with an increase of 22 per cent (its best-ever year for visits).

St Fagans National Museum of History in Wales, alongside National Museum Scotland, were ranked as top
attractions outside England.

Art also faired well in 2023, with galleries across the UK seeing a bumper year for visitors.

An exhibition by Grayson Perry resulted in a record-breaking year for National Galleries
Scotland, while Banksy’s Cut and Run exhibition saw over half a million visitors to Glasgow’s
Gallery of Modern Art.

In response to the cost of living crisis, throughout 2023 English Heritage teamed up with
foodbanks across the UK, to offer free entry to foodbank-users at its sites.

During the year attractions like ZSL London Zoo and Whipsnade Zoo offered heavily-discounted
tickets for families on Universal Credit, resulting in an increase in visitor numbers.

Other sites to offer discounted/free tickets include Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, Kew
Gardens, and most recently The King’s Galleries in London and Edinburgh.

Overall, current numbers are 11 per cent down on 2019.

Bernard Donoghue OBE, director of ALVA, commented: “Our members are not yet back to hosting the same number of visitors they did in 2019, but they're really delighted that even in a challenging cost-of-living climate, visitors are still prioritising spending special time with special people at special places.”

2024 is already turning out to be a strong year for galleries, museums and heritage sites across the UK. Art lovers can experience the work of Yoko Ono at London’s Tate Modern, Art of The Selfie at the National Museum Cardiff, and
200 years of The National Gallery starting on 10 May.

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