Attractions Review 2019: January
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Attractions Review 2019: January

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It's been another momentous year in the attractions industry and Attractions Management has been there reporting the big news all the way. Here, and in the days to come, we look back at some of the biggest stories, good and bad, that made our headlines – starting with January 2019.

There was strife to start the year in the US, with a government shutdown affecting the museum sector, while in Europe new replaced old in the Capitals of Culture programme, and there was some magic in the London air with a treat for Harry Potter fans...

Gringotts expansion to open

An April opening of the Gringotts Wizarding Bank expansion was announced at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter.

The permanent addition allows visitors to walk through Gringotts Wizarding Bank’s grand banking hall, and past goblin tellers’ desks full of props such as quills, ledgers and piles of Galleons, Sickles and Knuts. They can explore the depths of the Lestrange vault, where the treasures of Bellatrix Lestrange, including the Sword of Gryffindor and Helga Hufflepuff’s Cup, are stored.

A new 17,000sq ft (5,180sq m) lobby and a 500-seat café serving food and drink inspired by the Harry Potter wizarding world was also unveiled.

Smithsonian losses

Bosses at the Smithsonian, the world’s largest museum, research and education complex, reported that the institution was losing an estimated US$1m (€900,000, £760,000) a week during a US government shutdown that lasted from 22 December 2018 to 25 January 2019.

While the institution managed to keep its 19 federally-funded museums and the National Zoo that it also runs open until 2 January, using carry-over funds the previous financial year, those funds ran out on that day, forcing the Smithsonian to close the doors at all of its institutions.

Writing in USA Today days before the end of the shutdown, Smithsonian secretary David Skorton said the closure of restaurants, shops, IMAX theatres and other operations "is costing the Smithsonian approximately US$1m in revenue each week".

"These losses are not recoverable. They will have a lasting effect on our budget for this fiscal year and that effect grows each day," he said.

Cities of Culture

The cities of Plovdiv in Bulgaria and Matera in Italy embarked upon their roles as European Capitals of Culture in January, with Plovdiv becoming the first in Bulgaria's history to earn the prestigious title.

An honour bestowed by the European Commission, the European Capital of Culture initiative gives cities the opportunity to change their image, attract more tourists and rethink their development through culture. According to the European Commission, there are long-term beneficial impacts, culturally, socially and economically for those cities and regions selected.

Plovdiv and Matera took over from Valletta in Malta and Leeuwarden in The Netherlands, which held the titles in 2018. Both cities had planned extensive programmes of activities, including festivals, performances, exhibitions and community-based projects.

Check back with Attractions Management tomorrow for a look back at the highlights from February

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It has been another momentous year in the attractions industry, and Attractions Management has been there reporting the big news all the way. Here, and in the days to come, we look back at some of the biggest stories, good and bad, that made our headlines – starting with January 2019.

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