ALVA Press releases

Britain’s visitor attractions report buoyant 2009 and voice their concerns for the future

23 February 2010: The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) releases its members’ visitor figures for 2009 today, with the vast majority of members reporting an increase in the number of people visiting the country’s foremost museums, galleries, heritage sites, cathedrals, gardens, zoos and leisure parks. The median increase across the sector was 10.9%.

The increase was partly due to greater numbers of overseas visitors attracted by the weak pound, and British tourists staying at home. It was particularly marked in those attractions which have free entry, as people sought good value days out in the recession.

The UK’s visitor attractions remain optimistic about the immediate future, with 82% of them expecting to maintain or increase visitor figures. (This compares to 60% feeling optimistic last year). Some 53% of the members polled think their revenues will actually increase in 2010. However, there is caution about how the sector can continue to be sustained in the longer term.

In this election year, ALVA members were asked about which pressing needs the incoming government should address, to ensure that tourism continues to provide a much-needed boost to the UK economy. By far the most important change attractions would like to see is a change to incentivising tourists to visit and stay in Britain, rather than taxing tourists, with 35% citing this as their top priority for the next parliament. Members would also like to see a reduction in VAT rates on admission tickets, and enhanced government funding to enable VisitBritain to promote the UK to potential tourists abroad.

“The tourism industry played a vital role in Britain’s economy last year, with leading attractions working hard to maintain visitor figures and revenue in a challenging fiscal environment. As the political parties prepare for the General Election, they should consider how best to help the industry maximise the revenue it can generate and the additional jobs it can create.” comments Robin Broke, Director of ALVA.

The attached listing, comparing 2009’s visitor figures with 2008’s shows how attractions have held their own despite a very challenging environment.

For further information, please contact Truda Spruyt, Kate Wright-Morris or Sarah Watson at Colman Getty on 020 7631 2666, Truda@colmangetty.co.uk

Notes to editors

Some of ALVA’s members have not participated for legal, confidential or organisational reasons. Some of the stronger figures may be due to particularly successful temporary exhibitions, whilst weaker results may be partially explained by temporary closures for renovation or development (for example, half of the National Museum of Scotland is currently closed to the public due to a major renovation project)

For further details and interpretation of figures at individual visitor attractions, please contact ALVA members direct. Press office contacts are available from Colman Getty

The 42 members of ALVA comprise the majority of Britain’s biggest and best known attractions, and are responsible for managing some 1,598 tourist sites. ALVA seeks to represent to Government, the tourism industry, the media and the public, the views and achievements of its members, whilst promoting co-operation and high standards of visitor management

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