Following an increase in visitor numbers to the UK in the last year, both the UK’s government and tourism associations are calling increased focus on supporting the development of engaging and competitive tourism experiences.
The move comes as Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA), which comprise 57 members and over 2,200 tourist sites, announced its members’ visitor figures for 2014.
More than 123 million visitors reportedly passed through the doors of top UK museums, galleries and other attractions in 2014, a 6.5 percent increase on the 2013 visitor numbers. The Commonwealth Games saw Scottish attractions register the greatest increase of almost a 10 percent increase, followed by London with an increase of 7.11 percent.
The British Museum remained the most popular visitor attraction overall for the eighth straight year with 6.7 million visitors, followed by the National Gallery, which saw a 6.4 percent increase to 6.4 million visitors.
Bernard Donoghue, Director of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, has urged politicians to recognise the importance of tourism in their election manifestos. Donoghue said: ‘As we approach the general election we want to remind all political parties that no party mentioned tourism in their last general election manifesto, however these figures clearly demonstrate the popularity of our best loved attractions and the importance of tourism to the UK – it’s the fifth biggest industry and the third largest employer, generating £127bn per year.
‘I look forward to seeing all political parties spell out their strong support and ambitions for tourism, heritage, and arts and culture in their forthcoming manifestos.’
Meantime, the UK government’s Triennial Review of tourism bodies VisitEngland and VisitBritain also recommended a new focus for VisitEngland on supporting the development of competitive and attractive tourism experiences. The Review, which was put before Parliament by Helen Grant MP, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Sport and Tourism), also called for the formal separation of VisitEngland, to create a truly independent body for England.
VistEngland’s chief executive, James Berresford, welcomed the new direction: ‘England has amazing tourism assets but they must be made available and presented in a way that meets people’s aspirations and to a standard that is comparable with other leading overseas tourism markets. This is essential to make sure people choose our country over others.
‘Our concentration of support for developing new tourism experiences will be a catalyst for the next generation of world class leisure and business tourism offerings.’