VisitEngland's Annual Attractions Survey shows that gardens attract highest growth in visits in 2019

20 October 2020

VisitEngland’s Annual Attractions Survey published today shows that gardens saw the highest percentage growth in visitor numbers during 2019.

Visits to England’s gardens increased by 10% in 2019 compared to the previous year. Farms and Places of Worship also saw strong growth in visitor numbers, up 8% and 7% respectively. And Historic Houses/Castles and Wildlife Attractions/Zoos saw good growth in visits, both up by 5%.

Overall England’s visitor attractions saw a rise of 3% in visitors, the highest year-on-year increase since 2014, and 4% growth in revenue compared to the previous year.

Most visited paid attractions 2019


VisitEngland Chief Executive Sally Balcombe said:

“From world-renowned museums, galleries, castles and historic houses to rural, wildlife and outdoor experiences, England’s outstanding range of visitor attractions are a crucial and valuable part of our tourism offer, boosting local economies right across the country.

“England’s attractions continued to provide a rich and varied canvas to capture the imagination of domestic and international visitors and our stunning gardens were a proven tourism draw, admired at home and across the world for their beauty and variety.

“Millions of jobs and local economies rely on tourism and this annual survey is also a timely opportunity to highlight the dedication of visitor attractions across the country who have been working so hard to welcome visitors back safely, adapting and innovating to meet new ways of working and still providing a great experience.”

Most visited free attractions 2019

Topping the list of free attractions was the British Museum with 6.2 million visitors followed by the Tate Modern with nearly 6.1 million and the National Gallery with 6 million.

The Tower of London remained the most visited ‘paid for’ attraction in 2019 with almost 3 million visits followed by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, which saw a 25% increase in visitors to 2.3 million and Chester Zoo with 2.1 million. 

Visitor admissions grew in most types of attractions in 2019 with many of England’s regions seeing an increase. Attractions in the East Midlands and East of England saw the highest percentage growth, with increases of 7% and 6% respectively.

The survey, which gathered information from 1308 English attractions, also showed increases in international visitors overall in 2019, up 2%, and more local day trips to attractions than in the previous year, also up 2%.

Almost 2500 visitor attractions in England have applied for VisitEngland’s ‘We’re Good To Go’ industry standard and consumer mark to date, supporting visitors to book a break with confidence, reassuring travellers that tourism businesses are following official guidelines to welcome them back safely. In total, more than 22,000 businesses across England have signed up to ‘We’re Good To Go’ since its launch, giving customers, staff and local residents confidence and reassurance that the correct procedures are in place.

To see the results of the VisitEngland Annual Survey of Visits to Visitor Attractions in 2019 including regional data for attractions see:

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 1308 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. 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 more than 750 members.