Tate Modern named as the most-visited tourist attraction in the UK

Ahead of English Tourism Week, the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) has announced the most-visited tourist attractions in the UK for 2018 – with the Tate Modern taking the top spot.

The research comes after analysis of the nearly 70 million (67,640,804) people that visited UK tourist attractions in the past year. This number was an 8.68 per cent increase on visits to UK attractions from the previous year, and Scotland specifically saw an increase of 19.07 per cent in visitors to its attractions.

London made up the entire top 10 for most-visited tourist attractions in the UK. The Tate Modern saw 5.86 million visitors in the past 12 months, while the British Museum had 5.82 million visitors and the National Gallery welcomed 5.74 million visitors.

The National Museum of Scotland drew in the highest number of visitors for a Scottish tourist attraction, with 2.22 million visitors, followed by Edinburgh Castle with 2.11 million visitors.

The top 20 most-visited tourist attractions in the UK for 2018

1. Tate Modern, 5.86 million visitors

2. British Museum, 5.82 million visitors

3. National Gallery, 5.74 million visitors

4. Natural History Museum, 5.22 million visitors

5. Southbank Centre, 4.45 million visitors

6. V&A South Kensington, 3.97 million visitors

7. Science Museum, 3.17 million visitors

8. Somerset House, 3.14 million visitors

9. Tower of London, 2.86 million visitors

10. Royal Museums Greenwich, 2.55 million visitors

11. National Museum of Scotland, 2.22 million visitors

12. Edinburgh Castle, 2.11 million visitors

13. Chester Zoo, 1.97 million visitors

14. Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, 1.86 million visitors

15. Royal Albert Hall, 1.75 million visitors

16. Scottish National Gallery, 1.74 million visitors

17. St Paul’s Cathedral, 1.66 million visitors

18. Royal Academy, 1.59 million visitors

19. National Portrait Gallery, 1.58 million visitors

20. Stonehenge, 1.55 million visitors

Outside of London, the most-visited attraction in England was Chester Zoo, which saw 1.97 million visitors in 2018 and the most-visited Heritage site outside of London was Stonehenge with 1.55 million visitors.

The World Museum in Liverpool saw the greatest increase of visitors, rising by 111 per cent to have 1.42 million visitors last year – making it the most-visited museum in England outside of London.

Tourism Minister Michael Ellis said in a statement: “Britain’s tourism industry is booming. I am delighted to see such strong visitor figures for destinations across the nation. We are home to some of the best art galleries, museums and heritage sites in the world and these figures prove it. Tourism creates jobs, boosts our economy and is a force for good.”

However, while there was a rise in visitors to the UK last year, there was a decline in visitor numbers to many outdoor attractions. This is due to extreme weather in 2018, with both freezing and sweltering temperatures seeing several gardens, zoos and stately homes with parkland see a drop in demand.

The country’s second most popular garden, RHS Garden Winsley in Surrey, saw a visitor decline of more than 70,000. Other attractions affected included the Eden Project in Cornwall, ZSL Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire and Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire.

The Beast from the East, which hit the UK at the start of 2018, can be attributed to this decline as can the prolonged heatwave the country experienced in June and July last year. 


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