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The head of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions today called on politicians to recognise the importance of tourism in their election manifestos.
Director Bernard Donoghue made his plea as the association revealed that more than 123 million visitors passed through the doors of top UK museums, galleries and other attractions in 2014, a record 6.5% rise on the previous year.
Scottish attractions had the greatest increase of almost 10% increase, followed by London with a rise of 7.11%.
First World War centenary commemorations, including the sea of poppies at the Tower of London, and the Matisse exhibition at the Tate Modern in London helped boost numbers.
The Commonwealth Games in Glasgow also helped, according to new statistics from the 57-member association.
The British Museum remained the most popular visitor attraction overall for the eighth year running with 6.7 million visitors followed by the National Gallery, which saw a 6.4% increase to 6.4 million.
Donoghue said: “I am delighted that our members figures are going from strength to strength – reflecting the significant role they play in the economy.
“As we approach the general election we want to remind all political parties that no party mentioned tourism in their last general election manifesto, however these figures clearly demonstrate the popularity of our best loved attractions and the importance of tourism to the UK – it’s the fifth biggest industry and the thidrd largest employer, generating £127 billion per year.
“I look forward to seeing all political parties spell out their strong support and ambitions for tourism, heritage, and arts and culture in their forthcoming manifestos.”
He said he was confident that figures will rise again this year with an anticipated increase in overseas visitors.
“Our members continue to develop and push the boundaries with more ground-breaking and innovative exhibitions, which will attract record numbers such as Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at the V&A from March 14, to Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon at the National Portrait Gallery, which opens on July 2.
Outside London, Chester Zoo will be opening “Islands” in June which will be the biggest new Zoo development in Europe by recreating the amazing tropical environments of six South East Asian islands,” he said.
There were 119 million visitors to ALVA properties in 2013, 92 million in 2012 and 97 million in 2011.
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