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ENGLAND’S ATTRACTIONS SEE VISITS RISE 3 PER CENT IN 2006 ( - St Paul’s Cathedral enters top three most visited paid attractions -

VisitBritain’s latest survey of England’s visitor attractions reveals that despite a wetter year than 2005 with August sunshine levels 11% below average, 196.5 million visits were made to attractions in 2006, a +3% increase compared to the previous year.

According to the national tourism agency’s survey – supported by English Heritage and the Museum, Libraries and Archives Council – the average adult admission price to attractions was £5.21, while the popularity of city breaks continued to influence visits. Urban attractions enjoyed a +6% increase in visits compared to coastal (+1%) and rural (-1%) attractions which remained relatively static. Compared to 2005, visits grew for most types of attractions, with gardens receiving 86.6 million visits, museums and galleries 54.6 million and historic properties 47.1 million.

Tom Wright, chief executive of VisitBritain, says: “England’s attractions are a vital part of our £85 billion visitor economy. Even though we witnessed a wetter August last year, overall our attractions did well last year and indicate the year-round popularity of many of our attractions.

“Indeed, our free museums and galleries, historic properties, gardens, and traditional and contemporary attractions of all kinds, help Britain maintain its reputation as the sixth most popular destination in the world. However, with increasing competition from overseas destinations and the challenges our industry faces, we must continue to promote the appeals of our attractions and show Britons and international travellers alike the world-class experiences they can enjoy here. Find out why England’s attractions are among the best in the world at”

With a couple of attractions dropping from the 2006 survey, the Tower of London becomes the most visited paid attraction in England with nearly 2.1 million visits. St Paul’s Cathedral enters the top twenty at number two, indicating the rising awareness of the appeals of England’s centuries-old churches, chapels, abbeys and cathedrals. Indeed, 1 in 10 of the top ten free and paid attractions throughout England’s regions are places of worship and three in five people name visiting churches and cathedrals as an activity they would be very likely to do if they were to visit the UK. English Heritage’s Inspired! campaign has also helped raise public awareness of the benefits of protecting such buildings for future generations of visitors.

Great Yarmouth’s Pleasure Beach rises two places to third, followed by Flamingo Land Theme Park&Zoo in North Yorkshire and Gateshead’s New Metroland. Windermere Lake Cruises, Kew Gardens, Chester Zoo, the Eden Project and Canterbury Cathedral complete the ten most visited paid attractions.

Blackpool Pleasure Beach remains the most visited free attraction in England with over 7.7 million visits. Tate Modern is in second place following a +26% increase in visits, which raised it from fifth position in 2005. The British Museum is third most visited, with the National Gallery and Natural History Museum fourth and fifth respectively. As well as River Lee Country Park (6th) and Xscape Castleford (7th) some of the country’s finest free museums and galleries round out the top ten: Science Museum, Victoria&Albert Museum and the National Portrait Gallery appear in eighth to tenth places in the survey. 48% of the top ten free attractions across the regions are museums and galleries, emphasising England’s enviable reputation as a cultural destination.

A full copy of VisitBritain’s report and details of how to participate is available to download from the Domestic Statistics section at

North East
Average admission to attractions is £4.31 and coastal attractions performed particularly well with visits up +4% and urban attractions up +2%. The top three paid attractions look a little different from 2005. Although New Metroland remains number one, Beamish the North of England Open Air Museum has risen from number three to take the number two spot from Alnwick Garden, while Bishop Auckland Town Hall is a new, third place entry with 250,000 visits. Top free attraction is Newcastle’s Discovery Museum for the third year running, followed by Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens (up two places) and historic property, Derwent Walk.

North West
Average admission to attractions in the region is £5.88 with urban attractions doing particularly well (+10%) in 2006, compared to coastal and rural attractions which were both down (-4%). While Windermere Lake Cruises and Chester Zoo continue to hold first and second position, Tatton Park’s +6.6% visitor increase makes it third most popular paid attraction in the region. Blackpool Pleasure Beach remains the region’s – and England’s – leading free attraction and The Lowry pushes Tate Liverpool back one place to third. Proving the reason it was selected as 2008 European Capital of Culture, visitors to the Liverpool area are well served by free attractions – half of the region’s ten most popular attractions are in Merseyside.

Yorkshire/The Humber
Average admission to attractions is £4.03 and the region saw both coastal and urban attractions perform particularly well in 2006 (+7%), although visits to rural attractions fell (-6%). Flamingo Land Theme Park&Zoo remains the most popular paid attraction, although the number 2 and 3 spots – York Minster and Fountains Abbey&Studley Royal – have risen up the league table from fourth and seventh place respectively. Xscape in Castleford once again dominates the free attraction table with over 3.4 million visits (up +7%), followed by the National Railway Museum and the Trans Pennine Trail.

East Midlands
Average admission to attractions in the East Midlands was £4.84 in 2006. Rural attractions did well (+ 2%), compared to a -1% drop at coastal attractions and a -2% drop in visits to urban attractions. Wicksteed Park, Chatsworth and the National Space Centre all move up a place in the table of most visited paid attractions in first, second and third position respectively. For free attractions, Carsington Water Visitor Centre is in first place, followed by Woodthorpe Grange Park and Ye Olde Pork Pie Shoppe which rises to third from tenth place last year.

West Midlands
Average admission to attractions was £5.24 and in 2006 both rural and urban attractions saw visitor numbers rise +1%. Cadbury World is now the most visited paid attraction, rising from third last year, with Enginuity in second place and the Severn Valley Railway in third. The top three free attractions remain Birmingham Museum&Art Gallery, Museum of British Road Transport and the Heart of the Country Centre.

East of England
Average admission in the East of England was £4.74. Visitor numbers at coastal and urban attractions both fell by -6%, while visits to rural attractions remained at 2005 levels. Great Yarmouth’s Pleasure Beach remains the region’s number one paid attraction, followed by Colchester Zoo and Whipsnade Wild Animal Park. River Lee Country Park is a new entrant as the region’s most visited free attraction, followed by Castlepoint Heritage Centre also new to the survey for 2006. Despite a drop in visitor numbers, the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge remains in third position.

Average admission in the capital is £6.46 and visits to its urban attractions increased by +9%. Although some major attractions are not represented, the Tower of London is the most popular paid attraction in the survey this year, followed by St Paul’s Cathedral – which saw a +16.6% visitor increase last year – and Kew Gardens in third place. Although the top three most visited free attractions remain the same, visits to Tate Modern increased by +26% taking it to the number one spot from third in 2005, followed by the British Museum (first in 2005) and the National Gallery.

South East
Average admission to attractions in the South East of England is £5.25. Last year, coastal attractions did particularly well (+8%), although visits to urban attractions remained level and those to rural attractions fell by -1%. Canterbury Cathedral is the region’s most visited paid attraction, followed by new entry West Wittering Beach and Windsor Castle. Flamingo Family Fun Park is a new entry as most visited free attraction, followed by Willen Lake and Park and in third place, De La Warr Pavilion.

South West
Average admission is £5.71 and visits to rural attractions rose +3%, with visits to both urban and coastal attractions increasing by +2%. The top paid attraction remains the Eden Project with over 1.1 million visits last year. In second and third place are the Studland Beach&Nature Reserve and Stonehenge respectively. Oldway Mansion is a new entry in the survey and is the most visited free attraction. Gloucester Cathedral is in second place and Bath Abbey in third.
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For further information, please contact:
Elliott Frisby, Corporate PR Manager, VisitBritain on 020 8563 3035 or 07951 996241

Notes to Editors
• 5,456 English visitor attractions were invited to take part in the 2006 survey. 1,989 English visitor attractions provided visits figures for year 2006, an effective response rate of 36%.
• VisitBritain is responsible for promoting Britain as a world class tourist destination and for developing England’s visitor economy. It has representatives in 36 countries around the world and, in the last three years, has expanded into China, throughout Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia, and increased its presence in India with representatives in Bangalore and Mumbai.
• In 2006, provisional data indicates that there were 32.2 million visits to Britain, 7% up on 2005. They spent £15.4 billion in the UK: an 8% increase on 2005.
• VisitBritain’s international website,, was awarded World’s Leading Tourism Authority Internet Site for the third year in a row at the 2006 World Travel Awards by more than 200,000 travel and tourism professionals. With information provided in 26 different languages, every year over 12 million visits are made by international consumers to the 46 websites that make up VisitBritain plans to increase this to 25 million by 2009.
• An archive of media releases, information on VisitBritain's marketing activities, print quality, free-to-download images and more details about the work of VisitBritain in promoting Britain as a destination, can be found on VisitBritain’s online press centre,

Elliott Frisby Corporate PR Manager VisitBritain Thames Tower Blacks Road London W6 9EL Tel: 020 8563 3035 Mob: 07951 996241

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