London Arts: Tate Modern Takes Top Spot Among UK Visitor Attractions

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Tourism is alive and well in London, drawing nearly 70 million visitors annually, and the Tate Modern has become the most visited attraction in the UK, with 5,868,562 visits last year, according to the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions.

The news comes as the organisation reveals members' visitor figures for 2018, showing attractions in the UK saw an average increase of 8.68 per cent in attendance over 2017. At the same time, attractions in Scotland saw the biggest increase, of 19.07 per cent.

Overall 139 million visits were made to the top 249 ALVA sites in the UK last year.


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Some 68 million people – nearly the equivalent of the total population of the UK – visited attractions in London, with the city seeing a 3.37 per cent increase in overall number.

Tate Modern led the way, with an increase of 3.7 per cent in visitor numbers.

The rise is thought to be due to a combination of the draw of the new extension, which is still attracting a lot of attention, but also the two blockbuster exhibitions: the EY Exhibition: Picasso 1932 – Love, Fame, Tragedy and Modigliani.

The British Museum saw a slight decrease, of 1.3 per cent, to 5,828,552 visits – however an additional nine million UK visitors saw British Museum objects outside of London last year through major touring exhibitions.


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Although seeing a 9.7 per cent increase, the National Gallery remained in third place, with 5,735,831 visits, and through an innovative family marketing campaign, the Natural History Museum saw an 18 per cent increase in visits to 5,226,320 and remained in fourth place.

Laura Citron, chief executive of London & Partners, which runs VisitLondon, said: "I am delighted that this data shows London's world-famous attractions continuing to entice and captivate visitors from all over the world.

"We have an exciting year ahead, with major events such as the Cricket World Cup, city-wide projects like the magical Illuminated River display, Van Gogh at Tate Britain and Mary Poppins on stage – to name just a few!"


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For the second year, the most visited attractions outside London were in Scotland.

In 11th place was the National Museum of Scotland who continued to be the most visited attraction outside London with a three per cent increase and 2,227,773 visits.

In 12th position was Edinburgh Castle with a two per cent increase (2,111,578) – continuing to be the most visited paid for attraction in Scotland.

The Scottish National Gallery saw a nine per cent increase to 1,739,128 and 16th place.

Bernard Donoghue, director of Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, commented: "Attractions across the UK have shown that by investing in their buildings, gardens and staff, presenting globally significant exhibitions, and working together to bring iconic artefacts – whether poppies or dinosaurs – to more people, has been hugely successful.

"It's also clear that the bad weather at the beginning of 2018 – 'the Beast from the East' – the very hot summer and the impact of the World Cup resulted in some of our members experiencing a fall in visitor numbers, especially at outdoor attractions.


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"I'm so delighted that every year, more and more people, from here in the UK and from overseas, are experiencing the astonishing array of our leading attractions in every part of the UK."

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