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Britain’s visitor attractions remain popular despite downturn and prepare for a staycation summer


The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) releases its members’ visitor figures for 2008 today, showing a general upward trend in the number of people visiting the country’s foremost museums, galleries, heritage sites, cathedrals, gardens, zoos and leisure parks. 

With value at home so much better than in Europe and the US, over 60% of attractions expect to maintain or increase visitor numbers in 2009. The UK’s visitor attractions are gearing up to ensure that people who opt for a stay at home break will be offered unique experiences, family-friendly activities and good quality, added value packages.

 Overseas visitors are also expected to give a boost to the economy, with nearly a third of attractions planning for an increase in international visitors this year. Further details of the survey undertaken of ALVA’s members appear below.

 Liverpool’s reign as European Capital of Culture paid dividends for the city’s attractions, strengthening calls for the institution of a regular British City of Culture. The museums and galleries in the centre of the city all posted a substantial increase in visitors, an average of around 63% overall.

 “In the current financial climate, a healthy tourism industry is more vital than ever. This year British holidaymakers have the opportunity to rediscover the treasures on their doorsteps, enjoy terrific value, benefit from a strong exhibitions programme and at the same time support the local economy. We are starting to hear promising predictions about the weather too, so let’s hope that the government will see fit to support this industry with appropriate levels of investment.” comments Robin Broke, Director of ALVA.

 The attached listing, comparing 2008’s visitor figures with 2007’s shows how attractions have held their own despite a very challenging environment: See Here 


As the Spring Bank Holiday weekend approaches, bringing with it the prospect of a sunny half-term holiday, the Association of Visitor Attractions ( suggests that this is an ideal time to get out and about, especially as the Highways Agency has arranged for all minor motorway maintenance projects to be suspended and the cones removed by Thursday night.

Many tourist sites will be putting on extra events over the weekend and it is hoped that visitors will use the quieter routes, maybe even doing a bit of map reading, to ensure they have a good time by avoiding congested routes.  Route-finding services can assist with this.

Although the AA and RAC are duty bound to provide an accurate assessment for motorists of the likely levels of traffic they may encounter on major roads and motorways, these warnings should not be assumed to apply across the whole road network as much of this will be as peaceful as on a normal weekend.

It is hoped that the AA, RAC and Media reporting will be responsible as over-zealous warnings are harmful to many businesses, discouraging families from making efficient use of their car and their leisure time to get out for some fun, education and entertainment. Indeed, it can be argued that the car is at its most efficient when used by a family to visit areas where public transport cannot deliver.

President’s Forward to Annual Report

I am delighted that the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions continues to play its major role within the tourist industry.  Recognition of the role played by Tourism in our national economy is sometimes overlooked for other headline grabbing issues such as the decline in manufacturing, but Tourism is as vital and energetic a part of the economy as any other and deserves greater recognition for its contribution.

 A great many people are intimately involved with the whole process of tourism and developing our countryside and cities to participate in, and benefit from, incoming foreign tourism; a developing aspect is the promotion of our own country to ourselves.  As I travel around the country as Special Representative for International Trade and Investment, I continuously see the potential for increased domestic tourism; in this respect I feel it important to single out "VisitBritain" as it promotes Britain both abroad and internally.

 I also note the high regard in which our Visitor Attractions industry is held internationally.  I am often asked overseas about UK tourism specialists and through ALVA a number of countries are exploring and benchmarking our excellent tourism knowledge and products.

 As in any annual review not everything goes according to plan and I know that ALVA’s members have managed to trade through a difficult year, caused in part by the threat of Avian Flu and the reality of the July bombings in London.

It is always a pleasure to welcome new members and I am delighted to welcome the Palace of Westminster into what I hope will be a long and fruitful membership.  Whilst not every attraction can accede to membership of ALVA, I would point out the opportunities that ALVA is able to offer non-members to participate in its various Surveys and Schemes.

Finally I congratulate you all on another successful year of improving the quality and profile of our attractions.

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