Free events boom in austere times

Visits to domestic tourist attractions boomed in 2010 – if they were free to get in, according to tourism body VisitEngland.

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Free attractions including the British Museum and Tate Modern recorded an overall 6% jump in visitor numbers, while popularity of attractions that charge slumped by 1% year on year.

The British Museum retained the top spot as the most popular attraction, with visits rising 4.9% to 5.8 million closely followed by Tate Modern, who grew its footfall by 6.6% to 5.06 million visitors.

The Tower of London remained the most visited paid for attraction, with visits rising slightly by 1% to 2.4 million visits, followed by St Pauls, which saw numbers rise by 3.9% to 1.8 million.

The majority of the top 20 free attractions were museums and galleries, while most of the paid for sites come under the “historic properties” including Stone Henge and the Houses of Parliament.

Commenting on the figures, a spokesperson for VisitEngland says, while the body would not seek to advise attractions on how best to market themselves, the numbers “clearly show that in the current economic climate value for money is a key factor” in retaining popularity.

Tourism bodies representing London and England says it is too early to tell if the widespread riots across London and England will impact domestic tourism.

VisitBritain was last week forced to pull its international advertising campaign which had been running since late July on bbc.com’s BBC World News comprising edited footage from films made by brand ambassadors, including Dame Judi Dench and Jamie Oliver.

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