London

London's top tourist attractions see visitor numbers fall

Tourists have photos taken with a Beefeater at the Tower of London Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption London's top 10 tourist attractions saw nearly two million fewer visitors in 2017, according to the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions

Visitor numbers fell at London's top tourist attractions last year due to the high cost of travel, food and drink costs, a tourism chief has said.

The UK's top 10 attractions, including the British Museum and Tate Modern, got nearly 1.7 million fewer visitors.

Bernard Donoghue, of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (Alva), said visiting London was too expensive for many people.

There was 7.3% increase in visitors across the UK's top 238 attractions.

Figures released by Alva showed attractions across London as a whole saw a 1.2% rise in 2017 compared to the previous year.

"Economic factors have had an impact on UK visitors to central London, with associated evidence that the costs linked with a visit such as travel, food and drink have played an important part in deciding where to visit," said Mr Donoghue, director of Alva.

Recent terror attacks had put some people off visiting, he acknowledged, but added that "economic concerns are playing a more crucial part".

Rail disruption, including major works at the UK's busiest station London Waterloo, had also played a large role, he said.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption London's Southbank Centre dropped from fifth to seventh most-visited attraction in the UK
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Natural History Museum saw a 12% drop in visitors last year, compared to 2016

Almost one in five trains run by Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) - which owns four south-east England franchises - was more than five minutes late last year, Network Rail figures show.

"Passengers regularly using GTR during the week don't want to use it at weekends, and so visit attractions nearer to home," said Mr Donoghue.

Top 10 UK visitor attractions in 2017

  • British Museum - 5.9 million visits
  • Tate Modern - 5.7 million
  • National Gallery - 5.2 million
  • Natural History Museum - 4.4 million
  • V&A Museum - 3.7 million
  • Science Museum - 3.3 million
  • Southbank Centre - 3.2 million
  • Somerset House - 3.2 million
  • Tower of London - 2.8 million
  • Royal Museums Greenwich - 2.6 million

Source: Association of Leading Visitor Attractions

Big exhibitions also helped attractions draw visitors away from their rivals, the figures show.

The Pink Floyd exhibit at the V&A helped drive visitor numbers up by 26% to 3.8 million.

For the first time in four years, some of the UK's most visited attractions outside London were in Scotland.

The National Museum of Scotland was 11th overall with 2.2 million visitors, up 20% on 2016, with Edinburgh Castle in 12th with a 16% increase to 2.1 million.

Outside London and Scotland, the only other attractions to make it into the top 20 were Chester Zoo and Stonehenge, Wiltshire.

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