‘Mixed picture’ for visitor attractions

Eden Project. Photo credit: Matt Jessop

VisitEngland has today (July 12) published its Annual Survey of Visits to Visitor Attractions for 2022 showing that while visits overall to attractions across England last year showed recovery, numbers were still significantly down on pre-Covid levels.

The survey shows that visits to attractions in England increased by 42% overall last year compared to 2021, however this was still down more than a third (35%) on 2019.

The survey, which gathered information from 1,519 English attractions, also shows the impact of international travel reopening. Overseas visits to England’s attractions were up 280% in 2022 compared to 2021. Domestic visits to attractions last year meanwhile saw an increase of 24% on 2021.

London saw the largest regional increase in visits to its attractions, driven by the return of international visitors, with numbers up 141% last year compared to 2021. Other regions in England saw average growth of between 16% and 42% for the same period.

VisitEngland director, Andrew Stokes, said: “While it is good to see that many of England’s attractions made up lost ground last year, and to see the very welcome return of international visitors, these statistics are a timely reminder of the ongoing challenges for the industry with many still rebuilding from the pandemic.

“We know it continues to be a mixed picture for many destinations across England with our latest research showing that concerns about the cost of living are having an impact.”

Chief executive of Historic England, Duncan Wilson, added: “These statistics confirm that 2022 was a difficult year, but one where the light could be seen at the end of the tunnel as the trend in visitor numbers was so positive.

“Heritage attractions have been working all hours to find new ways to bring visitors to their sites and their creativity is wonderful to see. I’m convinced that the sector will emerge from the pandemic stronger and more resilient than ever thanks to the passion for sharing our heritage that drives its people.”

The most visited paid attraction in Cornwall last year was the Eden Project, with 658,204 visitors – a 14% increase on 2021, but still significantly down on pre-pandemic numbers of in excess of 1 million in 2019.

To see the full results of the VisitEngland Annual Survey of Visits to Visitor Attractions in 2022 including regional data, click here.