England’s museums and art galleries saw the most significant growth in visitor numbers in VisitEngland’s Annual Attractions Survey published today.

13 August 2019

Visits to England’s attractions rose by 2% in 2018 with revenue up 2% on the previous year. England’s museums and art galleries saw the most significant growth in visitor numbers in VisitEngland’s Annual Attractions Survey published today.

See the Full Trends Report (PDF, 5MB)

The survey, which considers responses from more than 1,500 English attractions saw museums and art galleries perform particularly well in 2018 with an increase of 6% in visitor numbers compared to the previous year.

Visits to places of worship also saw an increase with 3% more visitors in 2018 confirming the upward trend seen in 2017 after three years of decline.

Tourism Minister Rebecca Pow said:

“We are home to four of the top ten museums and galleries in the world and each year our attractions draw in millions of people wanting to experience, enjoy, and engage with our rich and diverse culture.

"It is brilliant to see such positive growth across a range of destinations. From ancient cathedrals and beautiful landscapes, to rural villages, historic houses, glorious gardens and museums, we truly have something for everyone. Our Tourism Sector Deal, with it's potential to grow the sector, will help make sure England, and the rest of the UK, remains one of the world's top tourist destinations."


VisitEngland Chief Executive Sally Balcombe said:

“England’s outstanding attractions encourage day visits and overnight stays, ensuring visitors have memorable experiences driving visits and growth across the English regions.

“Our culture is one of the main drivers for international visitors and so it’s not surprising to see our museums and galleries returning to the top spot, confirming England’s position as a cultural hub.”


Duncan Wilson, Historic England Chief Executive, said:

“The diversity and variety of historic places across the country is one of our greatest assets - inviting and inspiring visitors, from home and overseas, to discover the richness and diversity of the buildings and heritage all around us, and the stories which they embody.

“It’s heartening to see that international visitor numbers to heritage sites continue to rise, as well as school visits to historic properties which reached 1.6 million in 2018. We know the power of heritage to help children develop a sense of pride in their locality, and foster a sense of identity and belonging.”


The Tate Modern displaced the British Museum for the first time in ten years with 5.87 million visitors with the British Museum following closely welcoming 5.83 million in 2018.

Topping the list of paid for attractions for the tenth year was the Tower of London with 2.86 million visitors and Chester Zoo once again in second place with 1.97 million visitors.

VisitEngland's latest domestic tourism statistics show that for the first four months of 2019 Brits took a record 11.8 million domestic overnight holidays in England up 3% on the previous record set in 2017.

Tourism is worth £106 billion annually to England.

To see the full report click here.


Notes to Editors:

  • The VisitEngland Annual Survey of Visits to Visitor Attractions is carried out on behalf of VisitEngland by BVA BDRC and is based on a survey of 1,501 England visitor attractions. For the full report see the Annual Survey of Visits to Visitor Attractions.
  • Visits to Visitor Attractions Survey is a self-completion survey. There is no obligation for any visitor attraction, or any parent company / group of attractions to supply data.  VisitEngland does not verify data provided by an attraction beyond a basic 'sense check'. In addition, visitor attractions have the option of taking part in the survey anonymously, meaning not all visitor attractions that participate in the survey are named in the report or included in ranked lists of attractions.
  • For a number of the attractions, data has been included with kind permission of ALVA (Association of Leading Visitor Attractions), English Heritage, Historic England, The National Trust as well as several Destination Management Organisations.
  • Historic England contribute to the funding of VisitEngland’s Annual Survey of Visits to Visitors Attractions.
  • Please note ‘Workplace’ is defined as industrial/craft attractions.
  • Country Parks are not included in the most visited lists. However, they will be included within the Full Attractions Listing where visitors can visit an attraction at the park that meets our visitor attraction definition, such as a visitor centre or historic property and the figures provided reflect these visitors only. For more information on this, please see the full report.
  • VisitEngland operates the Visitor Attractions Quality Scheme (VAQS). The scheme helps attractions across England develop and improve their customer experience.  Areas covered by the annual assessment include pre-arrival information, the website, online marketing, journey planning, signage, welcome on arrival, toilets, catering and retail outlets.  During the debrief the assessor will also offer business support and advice.  The scheme currently has over a 900 members.