VisitEngland: historic sites see strongest growth

VisitEngland’s Annual Attractions Survey shows historic properties experienced significant increases in visitor numbers in 2017.

Of the 1,400 English attractions surveyed, the research found that historic properties such as mills, monuments, boats and burial grounds saw the largest rise in visitor numbers, up 8% on 2016.

Visits to farm attractions also experienced strong growth in 2017, up 5% on the previous year.

Historic houses and palaces along with visitor and heritage centres and places of worship all saw increases of 4% in 2017.

Tourism minister Michael Ellis (pictured) said: “Our world-class attractions have once more proven to be a huge draw for both UK and overseas visitors.

“Whether it be our unique historic places like Stonehenge, museums like Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum, or cultural hubs like NewcastleGateshead – home to the Great Exhibition of the North this summer – we have attractions that are the envy of the world.

“As we look ahead to the UK’s exit from the European Union, we remain absolutely committed to supporting our tourism sector and boosting local economies up and down the country.”

Sally Balcombe, VisitEngland chief executive, added: “Visitor attractions are an important part of our tourism landscape, driving visitors to discover more of England. It is great to see people are getting out and exploring the huge variety of attractions and places of interest on offer across the country, boosting tourism and distributing the benefits across local economies.”

The British Museum was the most visited ‘free’ attraction in England in 2017 for the 10th consecutive year, with nearly six million visitors, and the Tate Modern came a close second with more than 5.5 million.

The Tower of London topped the list as the most visited ‘paid for’ attraction for the ninth year running, with 2.8 million visitors, and Chester Zoo came in second place with 1.9 million.

Overall, visits to England’s attractions rose by 2% in 2017. Visitor attractions overall reported increased spending of 7% on 2016.

Yorkshire outperformed other regions in England with the greatest rise in visitors, up 7% on 2016.

The county also saw the highest increase in local/day trip visitors at 9%, as well as a 7% spend increase across the county’s paid attractions.

Sir Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “This is magnificent news for Yorkshire and confirms the many positive results our members have individually reported over the past 18 months.

“Through events like the Tour de Yorkshire which have showcased the county on a global scale, as well as high-profile national marketing campaigns taking Yorkshire across the country, it’s great to see everyone’s hard work paying off and our attractions reaping the benefits.”

The list of most-visited free attractions in Yorkshire includes Millennium Gallery in Sheffield, the National Railway Museum in York, Ferens Art Gallery in Hull, Yorkshire Sculpture Park in Wakefield and the National Science & Media Museum in Bradford.

The most visited paid-for attractions in Yorkshire include Flamingo Land in Malton, Yorkshire Wildlife Park in Doncaster, York Minster and The Deep in Hull.