Security fears prompt drop in London attraction visitor numbers

Security fears prompt drop in London attraction visitor numbers

Security fears led to a fall in visitor numbers to some of London’s most popular tourist attractions last year.

The British Museum, the Natural History Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum saw more than a million fewer people in total in 2016 compared with the previous year.

Attractions across London as a whole posted an overall increase of just 0.1%.

However, the UK average growth across 241 sites was 7.2%, including 15.6% in Scotland.

Bernard Donoghue, director of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, which published the figures, said terrorist attacks in Brussels, Paris and Nice had made some people reluctant to visit major cities.

“There were some security fears about central London and city centre attractions, both on the part of overseas visitors and also UK domestic families,” he told the BBC.

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

More than 130 million visits were made to the top 241 ALVA sites in the UK with almost 67 million visiting attractions in London.

The British Museum remained the most popular visitor attraction overall for the 10th year running with 6.4 million visitors, followed by the National Gallery with 6.2 million visitors, up 6% year-on-year.

The most popular attraction outside London was Chester Zoo, which saw a 12% increase to almost 1.9 million.

Donoghue said: “Many of our members in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Cornwall had record years in 2016, although the first nine months of 2016 were unquestionably hard for our members, particularly in London, for many reasons.

“However, by the end of the year nearly all attractions were reporting growth from visitors from overseas and the rest of the UK.”

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