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Tourism landscape changes dramatically as pandemic has devastating effect on attractions in England

A new survey has shown the severe impact of the global pandemic on visitor attractions in England




Despite being down more than a million visitors, the Royal Botanic Gardens are still the most-visited paid for attraction in 2020 - the first time a garden has taken the top spot   Credit: Kew Gardens

New statistics from VisitEngland have shown the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the visitor attractions industry, with a 65% drop in visitors overall compared to 2019 and a 55% decline in revenue.

The Annual Visitor Attractions Survey from VisitEngland - the government-funded national tourism agency - says that these declines were driven by site closures associated with lockdowns and opening restrictions and the significant contraction of inbound and domestic tourism in 2020.

The decline was notably tough for attractions which traditionally rely on overseas visitors - museums and galleries, other historic properties and places of worship.

The smallest attractions came for outdoor attractions such as zoos, gardens and country parks, while rural attractions also fared slightly better, with admission drops of 47% compared to 74% for those in urban areas.

Unsurprisingly, indoor attractions were badly hit, with attendance decreases of 76% compared to 43% for outdoor options, with lockdown restrictions delaying their reopening and public reluctance to visit indoor attractions during a pandemic.

Gardeners’ World?

In 2020, the Royal Botanic Gardens was the most visited paid-for attraction in England with 1.2 million visitors - the first time a garden has taken the top spot but still down over a million visitors from 2019. This was followed by Chester Zoo with 1.18 million visitors and RHS Garden Wisley with 993,000 visitors. The previous number one paid-for attraction - the Tower of London - saw an 85% decrease in visitors from 3 million in 2019 to 448,000 in 2020.

Topping the free list of attractions despite a 77% drop in visitation was the Tate Modern, which welcomed 1.4 million visitors - down from 6.1 million in 2019. The Natural History Museum ranked second with 1.29 million visitors and the British Museum - previously the top-ranked attraction - finished third with 1.28 million visitors - an 80% decline.

“These statistics are a stark demonstration of the impact on England’s visitor attractions which, even when they began to reopen last summer, had to operate with much reduced capacity before further lockdowns. It also underscores the importance of international visitors especially to our city attractions,” said Andrew Stokes, director of VisitEngland.

“The findings echo our consumer sentiment research which has consistently shown a preference for outdoor visitor attractions highlighting that there is still a job to do to boost confidence in visiting city and indoor attractions.

“Our world-class attractions are crucial to our tourism offer, boosting local economies across England and they need all of us to make sure they bounce back. From our world-renowned museums, galleries, castles and historic houses to our rural, wildlife and outdoor attractions, this is the year to take a new look at what is here on our doorstep.”

The survey compiled information from 1301 English attractions and also showed the impact of losing overseas visitors, the decline of which was 93% to the surveyed attractions.

Tourism woes

VisitBritain’s latest forecasts show that domestic tourism spending is estimated this year of £51.4bn (US$70.5bn, €60.1bn), just over half of the £91.6bn (US$125.7bn, €107.1bn) in 2019. Last year alone saw about two-thirds of the value wiped off the domestic tourism industry in Britain, a £58bn (US$79.6bn, €67.8bn) loss to the economy.

The tourism body’s forecast for inbound tourism spending in the UK this year is £6.2bn (US$8.51bn, €7.25bn), less than a quarter of the £28.4bn (US$38.97bn, €33.19bn) recorded in 2019.

“I know what a challenging year it's been for our brilliant tourism, leisure and hospitality sectors. Tourism is one of our country's greatest assets, driving our economy and delivering jobs across our communities,” said Nigel Huddleston, Britain’s minister for tourism.

“That's why we've provided an unprecedented £25bn (US$34.3bn, €29.22bn) in support, including through grants, the furlough scheme and tax breaks. There are so many wonderful attractions to visit in our towns and cities and it's great to see VisitEngland's Escape the Everyday campaign championing these opportunities as we build back better.”


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Opinion In depth Video LIVE
Tourism landscape changes dramatically as pandemic has devastating effect on attractions in England | Planet Attractions

news

Tourism landscape changes dramatically as pandemic has devastating effect on attractions in England

A new survey has shown the severe impact of the global pandemic on visitor attractions in England




Despite being down more than a million visitors, the Royal Botanic Gardens are still the most-visited paid for attraction in 2020 - the first time a garden has taken the top spot   Credit: Kew Gardens

New statistics from VisitEngland have shown the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the visitor attractions industry, with a 65% drop in visitors overall compared to 2019 and a 55% decline in revenue.

The Annual Visitor Attractions Survey from VisitEngland - the government-funded national tourism agency - says that these declines were driven by site closures associated with lockdowns and opening restrictions and the significant contraction of inbound and domestic tourism in 2020.

The decline was notably tough for attractions which traditionally rely on overseas visitors - museums and galleries, other historic properties and places of worship.

The smallest attractions came for outdoor attractions such as zoos, gardens and country parks, while rural attractions also fared slightly better, with admission drops of 47% compared to 74% for those in urban areas.

Unsurprisingly, indoor attractions were badly hit, with attendance decreases of 76% compared to 43% for outdoor options, with lockdown restrictions delaying their reopening and public reluctance to visit indoor attractions during a pandemic.

Gardeners’ World?

In 2020, the Royal Botanic Gardens was the most visited paid-for attraction in England with 1.2 million visitors - the first time a garden has taken the top spot but still down over a million visitors from 2019. This was followed by Chester Zoo with 1.18 million visitors and RHS Garden Wisley with 993,000 visitors. The previous number one paid-for attraction - the Tower of London - saw an 85% decrease in visitors from 3 million in 2019 to 448,000 in 2020.

Topping the free list of attractions despite a 77% drop in visitation was the Tate Modern, which welcomed 1.4 million visitors - down from 6.1 million in 2019. The Natural History Museum ranked second with 1.29 million visitors and the British Museum - previously the top-ranked attraction - finished third with 1.28 million visitors - an 80% decline.

“These statistics are a stark demonstration of the impact on England’s visitor attractions which, even when they began to reopen last summer, had to operate with much reduced capacity before further lockdowns. It also underscores the importance of international visitors especially to our city attractions,” said Andrew Stokes, director of VisitEngland.

“The findings echo our consumer sentiment research which has consistently shown a preference for outdoor visitor attractions highlighting that there is still a job to do to boost confidence in visiting city and indoor attractions.

“Our world-class attractions are crucial to our tourism offer, boosting local economies across England and they need all of us to make sure they bounce back. From our world-renowned museums, galleries, castles and historic houses to our rural, wildlife and outdoor attractions, this is the year to take a new look at what is here on our doorstep.”

The survey compiled information from 1301 English attractions and also showed the impact of losing overseas visitors, the decline of which was 93% to the surveyed attractions.

Tourism woes

VisitBritain’s latest forecasts show that domestic tourism spending is estimated this year of £51.4bn (US$70.5bn, €60.1bn), just over half of the £91.6bn (US$125.7bn, €107.1bn) in 2019. Last year alone saw about two-thirds of the value wiped off the domestic tourism industry in Britain, a £58bn (US$79.6bn, €67.8bn) loss to the economy.

The tourism body’s forecast for inbound tourism spending in the UK this year is £6.2bn (US$8.51bn, €7.25bn), less than a quarter of the £28.4bn (US$38.97bn, €33.19bn) recorded in 2019.

“I know what a challenging year it's been for our brilliant tourism, leisure and hospitality sectors. Tourism is one of our country's greatest assets, driving our economy and delivering jobs across our communities,” said Nigel Huddleston, Britain’s minister for tourism.

“That's why we've provided an unprecedented £25bn (US$34.3bn, €29.22bn) in support, including through grants, the furlough scheme and tax breaks. There are so many wonderful attractions to visit in our towns and cities and it's great to see VisitEngland's Escape the Everyday campaign championing these opportunities as we build back better.”


 



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