The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) announced its members’ visitor figures for 2014 this week, reporting an average increase of 6.5% on 2013 visitor numbers. Scottish attractions had the greatest increase – almost 10% – followed by London with an increase of 7.11%.
The British Museum remained the most popular visitor attraction overall for the eighth year running with 6,695,213 visitors, and remaining in second place was the National Gallery, which saw a 6.4% increase to 6,416,724. Included in the numbers for the first time was the Southbank Centre, who saw 6,255,799 visitors – securing them the position of 3rd place.
Libraries attracted substantial numbers, with the Library of Birmingham – which opened in 2013 – being the most visited free attraction outside London, in tenth place with 2,414,860. The British Library saw visits to its public exhibitions and programme rise by 52%.
Museums and galleries throughout the UK saw a 6.09% increase, compared with 11.75% in London. Blockbuster exhibitions continued to boost visitor numbers – with Tate Modern welcoming a record 5,785,427 (fourth place), which was undoubtedly helped by the Matisse exhibition.
The 100th anniversary of World War I also had an impact throughout the UK – with many country houses telling the story of their part in the Great War. The new First World War galleries at Imperial War Museum London saw almost one million visitors in just six months (153% increase on the same period in 2013), while the evolving installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red at the Tower of London attracted an estimated five million visitors to view the attraction from outside the Tower walls and assisted in a 6% increase in their annual visitor figures.
Bernard Donoghue, director of ALVA, commented: “ALVA is celebrating its 25th Anniversary in 2015 and I am delighted that our members figures are going from strength to strength – reflecting the significant role they play in the economy.
“As we approach the general election we want to remind all political parties that no party mentioned tourism in their last general election manifesto. However, these figures clearly demonstrate the popularity of our best-loved attractions and the importance of tourism to the UK – it’s the fifth biggest industry and the third largest employer, generating £127 billion per year. I look forward to seeing all political parties spell out their strong support and ambitions for tourism, heritage, and arts and culture in their forthcoming manifestos.”