Security fears prompt drop in London attraction visitors

Fewer visitors were recorded at some of London’s most popular tourist attractions last year, because of security fears.

The British Museum (pictured), the Natural History Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum saw more than a million fewer people in total in 2016 compared with the previous year.

Attractions across London as a whole posted an overall increase of just 0.1%.

However, the UK average growth across 241 sites was 7.2%, including 15.6% in Scotland.

Bernard Donoghue, director of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (Alva), which published the figures, said terrorist attacks in Brussels, Paris and Nice had made some people reluctant to visit major cities.

“There were some security fears about central London and city centre attractions, both on the part of overseas visitors and also UK domestic families,” he told the BBC.

“We did see a displacement out of central London for some people going to visitor attractions.”

More than 130 million visits were made to the top 241 Alva sites in the UK with almost 67 million visiting attractions in London.

The British Museum remained the most popular visitor attraction overall for the 10th year running with 6.4 million visitors.

Still in second place was the National Gallery with 6.3 million, followed by the Tate Modern (5.8 million).

The most visited attraction outside London was Chester Zoo, which saw a 12% increase and remained in 12th place (1.9 million).

In 15th place was the most visited attraction in Scotland: the National Museum of Scotland (1.8 million), closely followed by Edinburgh Castle in 16th position as the most visited paid-for attraction in Scotland.

Cornwall saw a record number of visitors in 2016, with notable increases at Tintagel Castle in Cornwall.

Donoghue said: “Many of our members in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Cornwall had record years in 2016, although the first nine months of 2016 were unquestionably hard for our members, particularly in London, for many reasons.

“However, by the end of the year nearly all attractions were reporting growth from visitors from overseas and the rest of the UK.

“Like the 2015 figures, Scotland has continued to outperform the rest of the UK with a substantial increase in their visitor numbers. 2016 was a great year for Scottish Tourism – proving that Scotland is reaping the benefits of significant capital investment in attractions and creative programming by its institutions.”

Pictured: British Museum © VisitBritain/Britain on View

alva.org.uk