Child admissions are down by 7% in England

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".
But in spite of slight falls in visitor admissions, gross revenue at museums and galleries experienced a significant 9% rise in 2017. The report stated: "There looks to be no association between gross revenue and visitor volumes."

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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