Visitor numbers at outdoor attractions such as Ironbridge Gorge's Blists Hill Victorian Town have been affected by the wet weather

Visitor numbers increase despite inclement weather

Patrick Steel, Issue 112/07, p7, 01.07.2012
Most attractions report good year, despite a slight drop-off in May
May’s poor weather was bad news for outdoor attractions, but most are reporting a rise in overall visitor numbers this year.

Historic Scotland had a record-breaking year in 2011-12, with 3.4m visitors across its 78 sites – a 7% rise on the previous year.

Although there were record visitor numbers to Edinburgh and Stirling castles over the jubilee weekend, the May footfall was 6% down on 2011.

At the Museum of East Anglian Life, visitor figures were also slightly down in May. However, overall numbers have increased since last year, while the number of season tickets sold has doubled, which the museum partly attributed to the opening of Abbotts Hall last month.

Attendance at the outdoor Blists Hill Victorian Town at Ironbridge Gorge was also slightly down in 2012 as a result of the weather, said a museum spokesman. But Ironbridge Gorge’s mix of indoor and outdoor sites meant that overall, visitor numbers were only slightly lower than for the same period last year.

Historic Royal Palaces has suffered an 8% drop in footfall to Hampton Court Palace so far this year, compared with 2011. There has, however, been a rise in the number of visitors to the Tower of London and recently reopened Kensington Palace.

The National Museum of Scotland welcomed two million visitors in its first 10 months after opening, while Bristol’s M Shed attracted 500,000 visitors over the same period. The number of arrivals to the Museum of Liverpool has exceeded a million since it opened in July 2011.

In Wales, the Millennium Centre remains the top visitor attraction.

St Fagans and the National Museum Cardiff had the second- and third-highest visitor numbers respectively, according to a survey by the Welsh government.

Meanwhile, the Design Museum’s Christian Louboutin exhibition, which opened in May, attracted more than 38,000 visitors in its first six weeks – a museum record.