Tate Modern is now England’s most popular tourist attraction

England’s tourist attractions are more popular than ever – and Tate Modern has taken the top spot for visitor numbers from the British Museum

  • Tate Modern welcomed 5.87million people through its doors during 2018 
  • The most popular paid-for attraction in England in 2018 was the Tower of London
  • Visits to places of worship saw a three per cent increase in visitors during 2018 

Visitor numbers to England’s tourist attractions have increased by two per cent, it has been revealed. 

Museums and art galleries saw the biggest jump in visitor numbers in 2018, with an increase of six per cent. The Tate Modern alone welcomed 5.87million people through its doors.

It has ousted the British Museum from the top spot for overall popularity for the first time in 10 years. It welcomed 5.83million visitors in 2018.

Visitor numbers to England’s tourist attractions have increased by two per cent, it has been revealed. The most popular attraction is Tate Modern 

The figures were revealed in VisitEngland’s Annual Attractions Survey, which considers responses from more than 1,500 English attractions.

Topping the list of most popular paid-for attractions for the 10th year running is the Tower of London with 2.86 million visitors and Chester Zoo once again in second place with 1.97 million visitors.

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

Meanwhile, VisitEngland’s latest domestic tourism statistics show that for the first four months of 2019, Britons took a record 11.8 million domestic overnight holidays in England, up three per cent on the previous record set in 2017. 

Tourism is worth £106 billion annually to England.

Tourism Minister Rebecca Pow said: We are home to four of the top 10 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.

The second most popular attraction is the British Museum, pictured. It welcomed 5.83million visitors in 2018

‘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 its 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.’

While 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.

Topping the list of most popular paid-for attractions for the 10th year is the Tower of London, with 2.86 million visitors

‘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.

And Duncan Wilson, Historic England chief executive, added: ‘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.’


Most popular free attractions

1. Tate Modern – 5.87million visitors

2. British Museum – 5.83million visitors

3. National Gallery – 5.73million visitors

4. Natural History Museum – 5.23million visitors

5. Brighton Pier – 4.9million visitors

6. V&A – 3.97million visitors

7. Science Museum – 3.2million visitors

8. Somerset House – 3.14million visitors

9. National Portrait Gallery – 1.57million visitors

10. British Library – 1.44million visitors

11. World Museum Liverpool – 1.42million visitors

12. Tate Britain – 1.27million visitors

13. Serpentine Gallery – 1.21million visitors

14. Imperial War Museum London – 1.06million visitors

15. MAC Birmingham – 1.01million visitors

16. Museum of Liverpool -962,009 visitors

17. Horniman Museum – 926,849 visitors

18. Merseyside Maritime Museum – 897,415 visitors

19. Ashmolean Museum – 882,494 visitors

20. Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery – 831,548 visitors

Most popular paid attractions

1. Tower of London – 2.6million visitors

2. Chester Zoo – 1.97million visitors

3. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Gardens – 1.86million visitors

4. St Paul’s Cathedral, 1.66million visitors

5. Windermere Lake Cruises, Bowness – 1.63million visitors

6. Royal Academy of Arts – 1.59million visitors

7. Stonehenge – 1. 56million visitors

8. Westminster Abbey – 1. 55million visitors

9. Roman Baths and Pump Room – 1.3million visitors

10. ZSL London Zoo – 1.13million visitors

11. Houses of Parliament – 1.08million visitors

12. RHS Garden Wisley – 1.07million visitors

13. Eden Project – 1.01million visitors

14. Bodleian Library – 910,806 visitors

15. Blenheim Palace – 906,885 visitors

16. Longleat – 904,714 visitors

17. Hampton Court Palace – 902,584 visitors

18. Tower Bridge Exhibition – 836,654 visitors

19. Shakespeare’s Globe – 819,000 visitors

20. Tatton Park – 775,000 visitors


Source: VisitEngland 


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