Theme Index 2017: Asia outgrowing rest of the world as museum numbers increase
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Theme Index 2017: Asia outgrowing rest of the world as museum numbers increase

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Asia’s culture sector has experienced rapid growth in recent years, something exemplified by Beijing’s National Museum of China, which in 2016 was the world’s most visited museum, according to the TEA/AECOM Museum Index.

The Museum Index, now in its fifth year, is a collaboration between the Themed Entertainment Association and the economics practice at AECOM. The Museum Index is part of the larger annual TEA/AECOM Theme Index, which tracks attractions attendance, looking at theme parks, theme park groups, waterparks and Museums.

Growth among the global top 20 museums increased following a 0.7 per cent decline in last year’s Index, with a 1.2 per cent increase from 106.5 million visitors in 2016 to 107.8 million in 2016.

Since the first Museum Index in 2012, attendance globally has risen between 2 per cent and 3 per cent, with Asia accounting for most of that growth.

“The US and European markets are mature, with approximately 1 per cent growth annually,” said the report. “In Asia, we have seen growth of 9 per cent annually over the past few years, in large part due to the Chinese government’s policy directive to develop hundreds of new museums every year and its investment in the provision of free admission.”

The National Museum of China in Beijing is now the world’s most-visited museum, displacing the Louvre in Paris, which suffered a 14.9 per cent attendance drop.

An increase of 3.6 per cent year-on-year, 7.55 million people visited the National Museum of China, which narrowly edged out the 7.5 million people who visited the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC.

Tourist numbers in Paris and wider France have suffered in the wake of multiple terrorist attacks in the country, marked by the attendance decline at the Louvre, which dropped from 8.7 million in 2015 to 7.4 million in 2016, ranking the historic institution as the world’s third-most visited museum. Similarly in Paris, the Musée d’Orsay experienced a double digit drop in attendance, falling 12.8 per cent to 3 million visitors, dropping outside of the top 20 from 17th position last year.

The UK is a top contender in the museums field, with the sixth-placed British Museum welcoming 6.42 million visitors, while the National Gallery and TATE Modern in London also both made the top 10, welcoming 6.26 million visitors and 5.84 million visitors respectively. The Tate Modern was also the biggest climber on the list, with a 23.9 per cent attendance increase attributed to its recent expansion. London’s Natural History Museum also came in the top 20, ranking 13th with visitor numbers of 4.62 million – a 12.5 per cent decrease on the previous year’s figures.

For theme parks, it was a mixed year, with overall visitor numbers among the top 25 parks declining by 1.1 per cent. For more, click here.

The world’s waterparks were making real-life and metaphorical waves in 2016, with combined attendance among the top 20 increasing to nearly 30 million. For more, click here.

To read the full TEA/AECOM Theme Index click here.

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Asia’s culture sector has experienced rapid growth in recent years, something exemplified by Beijing’s National Museum of China, which in 2016 was the world’s most visited museum, according to the TEA/AECOM Museum Index.
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