Britain's top visitor attractions revealed


A member of staff poses in front of photographs belonging to Elton John during a press preview for The Radical Eye: Modernist Photography from The Sir Elton John Collection at Tate ModernImage copyright

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An exhibition of photos owned by Sir Elton John was among the draws at Tate Modern last year

A million more people visited Tate Modern in 2016 compared with the previous year.

More than 5.8 million people went to the London gallery in 2016, an increase of 24%, making it the third most visited attraction in the UK.

No doubt visitors were drawn to Tate Modern’s new 10-storey extension, the Switch House, which opened in June.

The British Museum was the most popular visitor attraction in Britain in 2016 for the 10th year running.

The figures come from the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA).

Top 10 UK attractions:

1. British Museum 6,420,395
2. National Gallery 6,262,839
3. Tate Modern 5,839,197
4. Natural History Museum 4,624,113
5. Southbank Centre 3,909,376
6. Somerset House 3,443,220
7. Science Museum 3,245,750
8. Victoria and Albert Museum 3,022,086
9. Tower of London 2,741,126
10. Royal Museums Greenwich 2,451,023

The British Museum had more than 6.4 million visits – but that was a 5.9% drop on the previous year.

Image copyright
Huub Moolenaar

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The National Museum of Scotland was the most-visited attraction in Scotland

The top 10 most-visited attractions in the country were all in the capital. Seven of those saw a fall in numbers, including The Natural History Museum and the V&A, which both suffered a drop of 12%.

The overall visitor numbers for London attractions last year were level.

‘Security fears’

Bernard Donoghue, director of the ALVA, said terrorist attacks in European cities last year had made some people reluctant to visit major cities.

He told the Press Association: “There were some security fears about central London and city centre attractions, both on the part of overseas visitors and also UK domestic families.

“We did see a displacement out of central London for some people going to visitor attractions.”

In England, excluding London, there was an increase of 5.9%. Scotland enjoyed the highest increase with 15.6%, while Wales’s figures went up by 11%. Northern Ireland’s visitor figures increased by 7.6%.

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