Gardens, farms and theme parks see greatest increase in visitors

England’s gardens, farms and leisure and theme parks experienced the most significant growth in visitor numbers in VisitEngland’s Annual Attractions Survey published today.

Out of the 1,500 English attractions in the survey, outdoor attractions performed particularly well in 2015. Gardens, farms and leisure/theme parks reported the biggest increase in visitors, each up 7%, with wildlife attractions and country parks also seeing visitor numbers grow by 4%.

Visits to rural and coastal attractions grew by 5% and 4% respectively, echoing VisitEngland research that shows an increase in domestic holidays to the seaside (up 7%) and countryside (up 12%) in 2015.

Tourism Minister Tracey Crouch said:

"Year after year, our world-class tourist attractions continue to draw millions of visitors not just into London, but to the country as a whole.

"It is fantastic to see such strong growth across the regions, particularly in rural and coastal communities.

"Tourism contributes around £60 billion to our economy every year and these results show that the benefits of this thriving industry are being spread more evenly around the country."

VisitEngland Chief Executive Sally Balcombe said:

“The attractions sector is an integral part of our national tourism offer and plays a crucial role in driving economic growth across all of England's regions.

 “It’s great to see that more people explored the country’s stunning gardens and scenery in 2015, and we will be further highlighting gardens to visitors this year as we celebrate 2016 as the ‘Year of the English Garden’.”

The Tower of London remained the most visited ‘paid for’ attraction with 2.8 million visits followed by Westminster Abbey and Kew Gardens which saw 1.6 million visitors each. 

Topping the list of free attractions for the eighth year was the British Museum with more than 6.8 million visitors followed by the National Gallery (6 million visitors) and the Natural History Museum (5.3 million visitors).

Visits to England’s attractions rose by 2% in 2015 with revenue up 5%.

VisitEngland’s latest figures show that the first four months of this year have set a record for domestic holiday trips in England with trips up 8% to 11 million and spend up 22% to £2.8 billion.

Notes to Editors

  • The VisitEngland Annual Survey of Visits to Visitor Attractions is carried out on behalf of VisitEngland by BDRC-Continental and is based on a survey of 1,564  England visitor attractions .
  • For the full report see the Annual Survey of Visits to Visitor Attractions.  
  • Please be aware that the 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), Historic England, The National Trust as well as several Destination Management Organisations.
  • Please note ’Places of Work’ is defined as attractions such as breweries, distilleries, vineyards and premises where crafts are created.
  • Country Parks are included in the most visited lists 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 boasts a reputation for instigating, modifying and shaping change to the customer experience at visitor attractions across England.  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.