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Centenary commemorations help boost visitor numbers at UK's leading attractions

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First World War centenary commemorations helped boost visits to the UK to record numbers in 2014, according to new figures from the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA).

The sea of ceramic poppies at the Tower of London, along with the Imperial War Museum’s new First World War Galleries

among other centenary-related events, have been attributed for Britain’s highest numbers ever – a rise of 6.5 per cent on the previous year’s figures.

A new Matisse exhibition helped to bring 5.7 million visitors to the Tate Modern, but the British Museum retained its spot as the most popular visitor attraction in the UK for the eighth consecutive year, drawing 6.7 million people.

The highly successful Commonwealth Games, which took place in Glasgow last year, have been attributed to a swell in numbers for Scotland, with Scottish attractions seeing the greatest overall increase at 10 per cent compared to 2013.

The new Birmingham Library was the most visited attraction outside of London, while the British Library saw numbers rise by 52 per cent.

Another major attraction – Stonehenge – saw its numbers boosted by a new visitor centre, with the heritage attraction welcoming 1.34 million visitors – an increase of 8.4 per cent on the previous year.

"I am delighted that our members figures are going from strength to strength - reflecting the significant role they play in the economy," said ALVA director, Bernard Donoghue.

"As we approach the General Election we want to remind all political parties that no party mentioned Tourism in their last General Election manifesto, however these figures clearly demonstrate the popularity of our best loved attractions and the importance of tourism to the UK - it's the 5th biggest industry and the 3rd largest employer, generating £127bn (US$187.8bn, €178.2bn) per year.

“I look forward to seeing all political parties spell out their strong support and ambitions for tourism, heritage, arts and culture in their forthcoming manifestos."

Donoghue predicted a further rise for 2015’s figures, with several exciting attractions in the pipeline including Chester Zoo’s Islands development and new exhibitions, including Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at the V&A London and Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon at the National Portrait Gallery.

The top ten ALVA member attractions for 2014, with overall number of visitors and the percentage change on previous year were:

1 British Museum 6,695,213 (0.0)2 The National Gallery 6,416,724 (6.4)

3 Southbank Centre 6,255,799 (–)4 Tate Modern 5,785,427 (18.0)

5 Natural History Museum 5,388,295 (1.0)6 Science Museum 3,356,072 (1.2)

7 V&A South Kensington 3,180,450 (-3.3)8 Tower of London 3,075,950 (6.0)

9 Somerset House 2,463,201 (2.7)10 The Library of Birmingham 2,414,860 (–)

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First World War centenary commemorations helped boost visits to the UK to record numbers in 2014, according to new figures from the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA).

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