Heritage Attracts Visitors

By | Category: Travel rumblings

Last year there was a lot of anecdotal evidence that more of us were visiting castles and other heritage sites. You might remember Sir Thomas Ingleby from Ripley Castle in North Yorkshire saying that his visitor figures were up and Dover Castle has announced a 35% increase in visitors. But we are not alone as residents in visiting them. Now there is more widespread evidence from Visit Britain that it is our heritage that draws visitors from abroad.
It looks as though a quarter of all visitors last year visited a museum and about 15% visited an art gallery leading to a conclusion that these visits generated an additional £1 billion in revenue for them. How is the sum calculated since, averaged out, that comes to about £33 for every single visitor? It seems high. Since our national museums have free entry, could we be missing out on something more or would we turn visitors off?
In some places, locals get discounts on production of something that proves they are a resident. In Monmouthshire, for example, there is free entry for residents to some heritage sites. Could this be a way to go to try and generate more cash?
Interestingly, away from the free museums, there has been an increase in visitor numbers as well. The Tower of London, Edinburgh Castle and the Pump Rooms in Bath have all seen greater numbers. Cathedrals are free to visit but most, if not all, make suggestions that you should donate £3 or £5 to view them.
What it comes down to is that our heritage appeals. For decades it is how our countries have been seen by people abroad. They don’t think of us providing sunny days, broad sandy beaches, wonderful food or fascinating wildlife. (They find some of that out later) Whatever we think of our countries, visitors see us in terms of pomp, history, heritage and tradition.
So why shouldn’t we try to raise some additional revenue to support this heritage. I don’t suggest a lot, say £3, but if 7 million overseas visitors all paid that at our national museums, an extra £21 million might help some maintenance. It is not as though this would require additional staffing or other expenditure since most places charge extra for exhibitions so have counter and sales staff. Most of the new money will go straight to projects rather than administration. And we, as residents will still visit for nothing.

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