Newly released visitor figures for 2017 show the strength of the cultural heritage and tourism industry

New visitor figures have been released today (16th March) by ALVA, the Association for Leading Visitor Attractions, which demonstrate the strength of the cultural heritage and tourism industry with a 7.3% increase in visitor numbers across the UK as a whole.

The Science and Technology galleries at National Museums Scotland which opened 2016.

The Science and Technology galleries at National Museums Scotland which opened 2016.

London still dominates the table, with the top 10 attractions all in the city, and 64.2 million (nearly the equivalent of the total population of the UK!) people visiting attractions in the English capital, out of a total recorded 130 million visits to the top ALVA sites in the UK. The British Museum keeps its title as the UK’s most visited attraction for the 11th consecutive year, though its numbers have decreased two years running, leading to competition from the Tate Modern, which climbs one place to second in the list and the National Gallery in third, with 5.65 million and 5.2 million people visiting the galleries respectively. 

Despite the dominance of London, north of the border, Scotland has shown particular strength outperforming the rest of Great Britain in terms of growth for the sixth consecutive year, with a level of growth nearly double that nationwide with a 13.9 per cent increase in visitor numbers on 2016. The vast majority of the 56 Scottish ALVA attractions enjoyed attendance increases with strongest performances came from the National Museum Scotland (ranked at number 11th on the list - the top visited attraction outside London) welcoming 2.16 million people last year – an increase of 20 per cent, following the opening of ten new galleries in 2016. Edinburgh Castle (ranked 12th) follows with a 16 per cent rise to 2.06 million people in 2017 and continues to be the most-visited paid for attraction in Scotland.

Some of the biggest rises demonstrate the success of major projects and exhibitions programming, including the V&A who moved up three places to fifth due to a 26 per cent increase in visitors, which they attributed to the launch of the new entrance and courtyard on Exhibition Road, including a new purpose-built gallery space, as well as the success of three exhibitions; Pink Floyd: Their Mortal RemainsPlywood: Material of the Modern World and Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion. Tate Britain saw a 61 per cent increase in visitors – resulting in a rise to 15th place from 29th – which they credited in part to the hugely successful David Hockney Exhibition in the first half of the year (1,741,010). Shakespeare’s New Place in Stratford-upon-Avon saw a 191 per cent increase to 142,325 visitors following its opneing in the summer of 2016 following a two-year, £6m capital project to re-present the site of Shakespeare’s family home marking the 400th anniversary of his death.