Visit now while crowds stay away

By | Category: Travel news

That is the message from Bernard Donoghue, Director of ALVA (Association of leading Visitor Attractions) as his organisation released showing figures that fewer of us visited attractions last year.

Kew Gardens

That fewer of us visited last year comes as surely no surprise since they were closed for slabs of the year. That indoor attractions saw fewer visitors than indoor ones is also no surprise since they were closed for longer than outdoor attractions.

Comparing pre-pandemic figures with visitor numbers in 2020 or even 2021 will be largely meaningless because the comparison is not between oranges and oranges.

Perhaps that is why the boss of ALVA opted for the message that you should visit sites as soon as they open because “you are likely to never see them so quiet again.”

But even with that I am tempted to disagree.

part of the National Memorial Arboretum

It all depends on what you think will happen why attractions re-open. Will there be a rush and crowds or will it remain quiet?

Outdoor attractions such as gardens like Kew, Wisley and the botanical gardens in Birmingham, Cambridge, Carmarthen, Edinburgh and Oxford (celebrating its 400th anniversary this year) should see more visitors as various surveys suggest that people want to visit places where outdoors is combined with easily managed social distancing. The arboretums like that at Westingburt in Gloucestershire, Kilmun in Scotland, Bedgebury in Kent and Alrewas in Staffordshire should have few problems in social distancing. Heritage sites that are ruins and have open grounds connected to them rather than buildings that you have to visit inside are also like to be popular.

Places like the British Museum, Hampton Court, the Ulster Folk Museum, Trinity College in Dublin to see the Book of Kells and the national museums in Wales and Scotland will have fewer numbers until restrictions are lifted and even then, visitors might be wary. Nipping into the National Portrait Gallery in London in my lunch break as I used to do when I worked in London is not something that others may do this year.

Inside the dome of the National Botanic Gardens of Wales near Carmarthen

Forecasting what visitor figures might be like this year is complex and probably a waste of time because a new variant, a sudden spike in cases or a change of mind by governments could alter everything.

Where I do agree with Mr Donoghue is to go out and visit when you are able. The attractions need as much support to continue their work as they can gather.

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