UK sites increase visitor numbers by 5.59%, reveals ALVA

As visitor attractions continue to reopen across the UK and the reduced VAT rate of 5% is implemented, the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) has released the visitor figures of its members for 2019, which saw an average increase of 5.59% on 2018 visits to UK attractions, while attractions in Scotland saw the biggest increase of 10.41%. Overall 144,969,157 visits were made to the top 266 ALVA sites in the UK, compared to 138,823,297 visits in 2018.

Bernard Donoghue, director of ALVA, commented: “These figures demonstrate how popular and well-loved our fantastic array of visitor attractions are, and of their significance to local, regional and national economies. All of our members, however, face a very difficult future and exceptionally challenging times and so ALVA is making a special request of the public to spend their precious time and money at their local visitor attraction, to help them to survive and recover.”

He continues: “More than ever the public will be the saviours of the UK tourism industry and all of our members warmly welcome them to visit and show why our museums and galleries, historic houses and gardens, cathedrals and palaces, castles and zoos, safari parks and heritage sites, theme parks and churches aren’t just important to the economy but also to our physical and mental well-being too.”

ALVA has also published its 4th wave visitor sentiment Tracker, which found that against a challenging backdrop of decreasing general optimism around Covid-19 in the UK, there has been some growth in confidence in attraction visiting – particularly for categories previously unable to open. 

21% of the market (around 8.5m adults) claiming to have already visited attractions since re-opening, and among these, reaction to safety measures has been fairly good – although nervousness among visitors to attractions which were only allowed to open recently is apparent. 

However, around half the attractions-visiting market remains cautious about visiting. The main visit barrier is lack of confidence in attractions’ ability to control distancing, led by concerns over fellow visitors compliance. 

There is clear and increasing demand for a full visit experience to be available on re-opening, with significant proportions not visiting if services and facilities were to be closed. However, as indoor attractions re-open, high anxiety in the market remains around these indoor facilities – especially toilets, catering outlets, interactive visit elements and events. Demonstrating and communicating safety measures pre-visit will be even more critical than for outdoor attractions.

Two-thirds of the market would feel more comfortable about visiting an attraction if masks / face coverings were compulsory.

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