Hot spell spurs visitor numbers at outdoor attractions

Seaside resorts and outdoor attractions are reporting bumper numbers, thanks to the prolonged summer heatwave.

London’s Evening Standard reported that outdoor attractions such as Hampton Court, Greenwich Park and London Zoo have seen a rise in visitors of about 6% year-on-year.

Restaurants, bars and cafes with open-air terraces have also been reported as “packed”, especially since the end of the football World Cup.

The Heart of London Business Alliance — which represents traders in the Leicester Square area — told the Standard that retail sales were up by 7% in June.

London river boat service MBNA Thames Clippers also reported a surge in business, with passenger carryings up 10% compared to last summer.

Sean Collins, chief executive, said: “Being able to travel on the water with a breeze in your hair or in our climate-controlled cabin, a cool drink in hand from our on-board bars, is certainly the way to go.”

However, many West End theatres and other indoor attractions have seen small declines in ticket sales as they are “too hot” in a city with only limited air conditioning.

Bernard Donoghue, director of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, told the Standard that major museums have reported visitor numbers down by about 6%.

Meanwhile, the resort of Bournemouth (pictured) is enjoying a tourism boom, thanks to the record-breaking weather, “with hotels and restaurants enjoying a rise in trade of up to 40%”, according to the local paper.

“One hotelier even said his guests are starting to reserve pool-side sunbeds by getting up early and putting their towels down like in Spanish hotels,” reported the Bournemouth Echo.

“Tourism bosses said that by August 1 they had already taken as much as they would for the year from sales of ice cream, the hiring out of beach huts, deckchairs, sunloungers and parasols and fares for the promenade land train and cliff lifts.”

Councillor Pat Oakley, the council’s head of tourism, told the paper: “It’s been brilliant. The weather has been the best since 1976 and we are on track for a bumper year for everybody.”

The Daily Express said this pattern is being repeated across seaside destinations in the UK, “from Scarborough and Skegness to Brighton and Bournemouth”, with record numbers at many resorts, thanks to the weather.

Patricia Yates, VisitBritain’s strategy and communications director, commented: “The ease and certainty of budgeting for a holiday at home and the delightful weather contribute to the many reasons people are choosing staycations, distributing the economic benefits of tourism throughout the country.”

Bournemouth picture: VisitEngland/Bournemouth Tourism; home page beach image by Shutterstock.