‘Everywhere Dippy has gone, visitor numbers have gone through the roof’ 4/4/2019

The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions has published 2018 annual figures for visits to attractions, including major museums, heritage sites, zoos gardens and cathedrals. The figures show:  

  • Overall, visits increased by 9% despite a decline in visits to the UK by tourists from abroad.
  • All of the top ten attractions are in London and seven of the ten are national museums, with Tate Modern (5.86m) pushing the British Museum (5.82m) into second place, with the National Gallery third (5.73m). ALVA comments that 67.6m people visited London in the year – ‘nearly the equivalent of the total population of the UK’ – so it is unsurprising that sites in the capital dominate listings.
  • For a second year, the most visited attractions outside London were in Scotland, led by the National Museum of Scotland (up 3% to 2.27m), with the Scottish National Gallery also growing visitors by 9% to 1.73m. Four of the seven fastest growing sites in ALVA’s statistics were National Trust properties in Scotland.
  • The huge success of ‘China’s First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors’ at the World Museum, Liverpool grew audiences by 11% to 1.4m and made it the most visited museum in England outside London.
  • Other major draws in 2018 included ‘Dippy on Tour’ which helped Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery grow visitors by 38% to 836k and the ‘Game of Thrones’ tapestry at Ulster Museum, which, combined with the opening of the ‘Troubles and Beyond Gallery’ and a visit from Dippy, helped grow audiences by 10%.
  • Museums with a military theme also drew increased visitors in the final FWW centenary year, including a 36% rise in visitors at IWM North and for the RAF Museum at Colindale (45%) and Cosford (19%).

  ALVA’s Director Bernard Donoghue told The Guardian that most growth in visitor numbers has been domestic tourists visiting regional attractions. He added “visitor numbers are just one barometer of success - the greatest barometer is whether people like it and come back … All of our museums, galleries and attractions seem to be pushing the envelope, taking new risks, doing creative things and making visitors happier as a result.” ALVA(whole list), BBC, Guardian, ALVA(commentary) M+H