Visits to UK’s top tourist attractions struggle to recover after pandemic

Customer numbers on the UK’s hottest sights, together with the British Museum and Tate Trendy, have didn’t rebound because the onset of the pandemic, as the price of dwelling disaster and a scarcity of Chinese language travellers hobbled demand.

There have been 123.4mn visits recorded throughout Britain’s 349 best-known vacationer websites final 12 months, an enchancment on 2021 however nonetheless nicely under the 161.2mn visits throughout the websites in 2019, based on the Affiliation of Main Customer Points of interest, an business physique, on Friday.

Bernard Donoghue, ALVA chief govt, mentioned London’s landmarks had recovered notably slowly as a result of they have been “extremely depending on international guests” and consequently have been “affected by the tourism equal of lengthy Covid”.

In 2022, 46.6mn visits have been recorded to the capital’s greatest sights, down 33 per cent on ranges recorded earlier than the pandemic struck.

Visits to the British Museum, which beforehand ranked because the UK’s hottest attraction, have been 35 per cent decrease, whereas journeys to the Nationwide Gallery and the Victoria and Albert Museum have been greater than 40 per cent down in contrast with 2019.

Windsor Nice Park ranked as the most well-liked customer attraction with 5.6mn visits in 2022, boosted by crowds gathering to observe the state hearse carrying Queen Elizabeth II to her last resting place on the King George VI Memorial Chapel in September.

Donoghue mentioned that with the tip of Beijing’s Zero-Covid coverage final December, marking the loosening of Chinese language journey restrictions, the outlook for worldwide guests was bettering “week-by-week”.

“Chinese language guests aren’t simply necessary by way of sheer numbers, however they have an inclination to spend extra as nicely,” mentioned Donoghue.

In accordance with the vacationer board VisitBritain, annual spending from worldwide guests to the UK is about to succeed in practically £29.5bn this 12 months, surpassing the earlier file of £28.4bn set in 2019, however customer numbers is not going to rebound in full till 2025.

Donoghue added that the price of dwelling disaster meant Britons have been making “tactical selections” about leisure spending, which was slicing into footfall at many websites.

Visits to free sights recovered to 14 per cent under 2019 ranges, and bounced again quicker than paid-for websites, whose numbers have been 28 per cent down.

Dan Wolfe, industrial director of Historic Royal Palaces, a charity that runs six UK palaces, together with the Tower of London, mentioned restoration in vacationer numbers had been “led by the Individuals returning en masse”.

Alongside sluggish demand from guests from China and south-east Asia, Wolfe mentioned the Tower of London had seen a drop-off in guests from European nations.

“The query mark is whether or not Covid to an extent has hidden the results of Brexit,” mentioned Wolfe, pointing to how extra bureaucratic hurdles for varsity excursions visiting Britain had harm demand.

Tim Reeve, V&A deputy director, mentioned that, whereas the museum had benefited from record-high home customer numbers, a drop-off in worldwide guests had held again demand.

“We recognise that it might be a while earlier than worldwide tourism reaches pre-pandemic ranges,” mentioned Reeve.