The outdoors appealed

By | Category: Travel destinations

The news that English attractions saw fewer visitors will surprise no-one.

Kew Gardens was the top paying visitor attraction in 2020

According to VisitEngland’s Annual Visitor Attractions Survey for 2020, there was a 65% drop in visitors overall compared to 2019 and a 55% decline in revenue. 

No doubt something similar was seen by the tourist authorities of the other three home nations as well as Ireland.

In fact, anyone should virtually dismiss any tourism and travel figures from 2020 because they will be virtually meaningless in the future as most would consider the year an aberration.

It won’t be much of a surprise either that the top three paid-for attractions were largely outdoors. The most visited attraction was Kew Gardens followed by Chester Zoo and RHS Wisley in Surrey.

Nine out of the top ten paid-for attractions were predominantly those that offered outdoor space for people to visit.

This was probably due to the fact that gardens and outdoor spaces were either allowed to re-open earlier or could stay open during much of the lockdown periods last year so that people could exercise.

Wakehurst – a 500 acre garden owned by the National Trust but managed by Kew Gardens in West Sussex provided a real surprise; numbers rose over 2019 as indeed they did at Stonehenge

Only seven attractions in England saw more than a million visitors, itself a bit of a surprise given that most indoor spaces were shut at various times from towards the end of March 2020 onwards.

The most visited free attraction was Tate Modern in London followed by the Natural History Museum and the British Museum which probably saw a big chunk of business before the lockdowns started.

The third non-surprise was that attendance figures in rural areas didn’t drop as much as in urban areas. Living in a rural area, our wildlife centre was open throughout the lockdown although the café was closed. Our castle was closed for some months but re-opened with the shop and the towers being closed off because social distancing could not be assured. In fact it was only this week that the go-ahead was given for people to climb the towers.

These figures from VisitEngland confirm what we all knew; 2020 was a ghastly year!

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