Attractions saw 55 per cent slump in revenue in 2020 due to Covid-19 pandemic
England’s attractions suffered a 65 per cent year-on-year fall in visitor numbers in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Attractions also saw a 55 per cent slump in revenue due to site closures associated with lockdowns and opening restrictions, coupled with the decrease in inbound and domestic tourism in 2020.
The figures were revealed by VisitEngland’s Annual Visitor Attractions Survey for 2020.
Museums, art galleries, historic properties and places of worship suffered the biggest fall in visitors.
Outdoor attractions such as country parks, zoos and gardens showed the smallest decreases.
Topping the list of most visited paid-for attractions was Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, with 1.2 million visitors. This is the first time a garden has taken the top spot. Kew was followed by Chester Zoo and RHS Garden Wisley.
The Tower of London, which had ranked first since 2009, saw an 85 per cent drop in visitors, dropping to 10th place.
Indoor attractions suffered a 76 per cent decline in admissions, while outdoor attractions saw a 43% fall in visitor numbers.
Indoor attractions were hardest hit due to lockdown restrictions and “people being more reluctant to visit indoor attractions”.
Tate Modern was the most visited free attraction in England with 1.4 million visitors, a 77 per cent fall on 2019, followed by the Natural History Museum with 1.3 million visitors (a 76 per cent fall), and the British Museum with 1.28 million visitors (an 80 per cent drop).
The survey showed the devastating impact on attractions caused by a 93 per cent drop in overseas visitors compared to 2019.
London attractions were hit hardest by the pandemic with a 77 per cent decline in visitor numbers due in part to “lower confidence in using public transport”.
Attractions in the North East and North West averaged larger declines associated with local lockdowns, while the East of England saw the lowest.
The tourism agency’s recent ‘Escape the Everyday – Enjoy the UK this Summer’ campaign has sought to drive domestic day trips and overnight breaks, as well as boost consumer confidence.
Tourism minister Nigel Huddleston said: “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.”
He added: “That’s why we’ve provided an unprecedented £25 billion 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.”
VisitEngland director Andrew Stokes said: “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.
“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.”