Mixed picture for visitor trends in England, according to report
Geraldine Kendall Adams, 22.08.2018
Overall footfall down slightly but gross revenue jumps 9%
Museums and galleries in England had mixed fortunes in 2017, according to a report on visitor attraction trends by the tourism body VisitEngland.
The report found that visitor numbers to museums and art galleries fell slightly by 1%, the second successive year of admissions decline.
The findings appear to bear out anecdotal evidence that the decline is largely driven by institutions based in London, which reported a 4% drop in footfall.
Meanwhile attractions such as heritage centres and historic houses and palaces all reported a 4% rise in visitors in 2017. For all attraction types, there was a slight fall in visitor admissions in urban locations (-1%) compared to strong levels of growth in coastal (4%) and rural (5%) areas.
Museums and galleries suffered an 11% fall in overseas visitors, the highest among all types of attractions, with institutions in the north-east (-11%), the East (-6) and West Midlands (-15%) and London (-2%) worst affected by the decline. This came in spite of a 4% increase in inbound visits to the UK recorded by the International Passenger Survey.
The proportion of child admissions to all attraction types also fell, dropping back by 7% last year, while school visits fell 2%. The report said the decline in child and school admissions was driven by sites in London and the south-east, which it said was "most likely due to security fears following the terror attacks".
The report found that admission charges are becoming more expensive, with the average admission charge to paid-for museums and art galleries rising by 5% last year and the average cost of a standard adult entry ticket coming to £6.04.
For all types of paid-for attractions, child admission charges rose by 7% last year and more than one in three attractions (36%) now charge more than £5 for a child's ticket, compared to 32% in 2016.
Across all attraction types, digital engagement grew, with 89% now using some form of digital communication. The platforms with the largest growth were Instagram and Pinterest, which are now used by 44% of attractions compared to 22% in 2015.
The report found that use of social media seemed to have been successful in attracting local audiences: Sites that used digital communications saw a 2% increase in visitors, while those not using digital channels reported a 3% drop.
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