Museums and tourism

Tourism is an important part of the UK economy and the 5th largest industry in the UK. Museums and galleries are key drivers of British tourism and play a significant role in attracting visitors and in building the British brand overseas. 

Statistics testify to museums’ success in attracting visitors: eight of the top ten most popular attractions in the UK are national museums and 50% of UK adults visited a museum or gallery in 2018. There are now more than 5 million more visits to national museums and galleries than in 2009, and they remain popular with international visitors (including those from both mature markets and the high-spending new markets). 40% of visitors to the UK cited culture as their reason to visit, and 43% visited a museum or gallery while in the UK.

UK museums' international work further raises the profile of UK culture with museums lending high profile objects or complete exhibitions to venues in all of VisitBritain's top 20 market's for predicted growth.

NMDC's 2013 briefing Museums and Tourism highlights how museums are driving economic development and local investment across the UK by attracting record numbers of visitors, encouraging secondary spending, directly and indirectly creating jobs and making areas more desirable for investment. The briefing includes a wealth of facts and figures to give the big statistical picture of how museums represent a substantial economic and reputational asset to the country, plus snapshots of how dozens of specific projects from museums across the UK contribute to achieving this. 

Read the full NMDC briefing on Museums and Tourism.

Rural Tourism

NMDC submitted evidence to the 2016 Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee inquiry into rural tourism. The submission, also made on behalf of the Museums Association and Association of Independent Museums, outlined how museums are a crucial part of rural and coastal tourism and sets out a series of measures which could help museums maximise their contribution to rural tourism.

Read the submission to Rural Tourism inquiry

Visit Britain tourism framework review 2009

Read an NMDC letter to the Culture Secretary in response to the Tourism Framework Review.
Read an NMDC letter to the Executive Chair of Visit Britain in response to the Tourism Framework Review.

Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee inquiry into tourism: 2014 and 2007

Read the NMDC response to the Select Committee Inquiry 2014

Read the NMDC response to the Select Committee Inquiry 2007.