London adds another heritage attraction, opens Postal Museum for visitors

London has added another heritage attraction to its collection with the recent opening of the Royal Mail’s Postal Museum.

‘We are absolutely delighted to welcome our first visitors to The Postal Museum. We’re anticipating an extremely busy first month, with lots of fun activities planned for families. Then, on Monday 4 September, Mail Rail trains will depart for the first time – a truly historic moment for London,’ said museum director Adrian Steel in a statement.

Postal Museum, located near the central London sorting depot, is opening to the public after an 18 month refurbishment project. The museum informs and educates guests on the history of the postal services in Britain through interactive displays.

A main attraction in the Postal Museum is the underground train ride – Mail Rail. The underground train ride is a kilometre long and takes guests on a journey through abandoned rail tunnels. These mail tunnels have not been used for over 100 years now and the revival is expected to offer guests a unique and close experience with history.

While the Postal Museum is open for guests, the Mail Rail ride will only start in September. It will see visitors board a miniature train that will run through stalactite-filled chambers of subterranean London, formerly hidden from public view.

Postal Museum is designed interactively, and presents a glimpse of the human side of Britain’s postal system – from the greatcoats and pistols carried by 18th century posties to the development of Britain’s iconic stamps used on envelopes. Another attraction is a game where visitors can take the role of a mail coach guard to understand the working of the mail system.

In addition, visitors will be able to decipher Morse code at a writing bureau from the 1930s. Once written, the messages disappear through a system of pneumatic tubes and are received by any stranger on the other side of the museum.

With its unique design and extensive coverage of the history of Britain’s postal service, the museum aims to be an interesting historical attraction for tourists and visitors, both local and foreign.

UK urged to focus on development of tourism experience

Following an increase in visitor numbers to the UK in the last year, both the UK’s government and tourism associations are calling increased focus on supporting the development of engaging and competitive tourism experiences.

The move comes as Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA), which comprise 57 members and over 2,200 tourist sites, announced its members’ visitor figures for 2014.

More than 123 million visitors reportedly passed through the doors of top UK museums, galleries and other attractions in 2014, a 6.5 percent increase on the 2013 visitor numbers. The Commonwealth Games saw Scottish attractions register the greatest increase of almost a 10 percent increase, followed by London with an increase of 7.11 percent.

The British Museum remained the most popular visitor attraction overall for the eighth straight year with 6.7 million visitors, followed by the National Gallery, which saw a 6.4 percent increase to 6.4 million visitors.

Bernard Donoghue, Director of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, has urged politicians to recognise the importance of tourism in their election manifestos. Donoghue said: ‘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 third largest employer, generating £127bn 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.’

Meantime, the UK government’s Triennial Review of tourism bodies VisitEngland and VisitBritain also recommended a new focus for VisitEngland on supporting the development of competitive and attractive tourism experiences. The Review, which was put before Parliament by Helen Grant MP, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Sport and Tourism), also called for the formal separation of VisitEngland, to create a truly independent body for England.

VistEngland’s chief executive, James Berresford, welcomed the new direction: ‘England has amazing tourism assets but they must be made available and presented in a way that meets people’s aspirations and to a standard that is comparable with other leading overseas tourism markets. This is essential to make sure people choose our country over others.

‘Our concentration of support for developing new tourism experiences will be a catalyst for the next generation of world class leisure and business tourism offerings.’

 

London top 10 attractions film launched

As part of its ongoing effort to attract visitors to London, VisitLondon.com – the city’s official guide – has launched its London Top 10 Attractions, a pioneering film that uses footage from an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).

The short film, which showcases the city’s top ten most visited spots, comes after a record-breaking year for London tourism. To celebrate the milestone, VisitLondon.com curated its very own top-ten list offering a unique aerial view and fresh perspective on the world famous landmarks.

Boosted by the 2012 Olympic Games, the British capital experienced a surge in tourists, with the City’s top attractions registering a 12 per cent increase in visitors. Almost seven million people visited the British Museum, which was ranked as the number one attraction in 2013. The National Gallery came in at second place with just over six million visitors, and the Natural History Museum was in third position with 5.4 million.

Director of VisitLondon.com, Julie Chappell, said, ‘London has had a blockbuster year, experiencing a surge in tourists not seen before by any other post-Olympic host city in the world.

‘VisitLondon.com is a vital tool to millions of visitors to the city, so it’s important to continually create new and inspiring content. This film uses impressive footage achieved by UAV, giving fantastic visuals of our iconic attractions. We’re really excited to share it and encourage visitors to London to experience the things that continue to excite and draw many millions of people each year.’

Advertising agency London Creative CEO, Richard Teideman, says ‘It’s been amazing working with London & Partners. The challenge was not just to do the top ten attractions, but to do something that is dramatically different.

Filming with the UAV creates motion that is unlike anything else – the movement and ways in which you can play with this technology is truly groundbreaking. It’s been a thrill to pioneer and at the same time to show these iconic London landmarks in a different light.’

The VisitLondon.com Top Ten Attractions, in this order, are The British Museum, The National Gallery, Natural History Museum, Tate Modern, EDF Energy London Eye, Science Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, Tower of London, Royal Museums Greenwich (Royal Observatory Greenwich, The Queen’s House, National Maritime Museum, Cutty Sark) and Madame Tussauds London.

 

Snowdonia Visitors Get List of Free Attractions

Attractions of Snowdonia, an association of organisations that promotes the Snowdonia Mountains and the coastal area of Wales, has provided a list of the area’s complimentary attractions for summer holidaymakers.

The National Slate Museum, a museum located in a disused Dinorwic slate quarry within the Padarn Country Park, Snowdonia, is offering family holiday events for the summer. For children the museum is offering rides on a mini mining train, slate painting activities, as well as mining workshops, and slate-splitting demonstrations, all of which are available daily from 10am to 5pm, and entry is free of charge.

Families can also take part in conducted tours of the secret village of Nant Gwrtheyrn, a mining village of yesteryear. The tours will include history walks and tales and legends for children to enjoy. Families are also invited to join in on coastal or woodland walks for a nature-watch, and see the most fascinating flora and fauna of the region.

Oriel Plas Glyn-y-Weddw Arts Centre at Pwllheli, Gwynedd, constructed in 1857 as a Dover House for Lady Elizabeth Jones Parry of the Madryn Estate, has an art gallery and a woodland for adventure activities.

Trefriw Woollen Mills, at Trefriw, Conwy Valley, is offering visitors an insight into the functions of the mill, which produces its own electricity from water turbines, as well as visits to a Millworkers’ cottage and a talk on weaving in a weaver’s garden.

Snowdonia has around 29 different attractions, for visitors, from museums and castles, to adventure trips, catering for all kinds of visitor interests.

 

Royal wedding pushes Westminster Abbey into top 10 UK attractions

Thanks to the ‘Royal Wedding effect’ Westminster Abbey has made it into the top ten most visited attractions in the UK.

Visitor numbers to the abbey have increased massively since the Royal wedding that was watched by billions of people around the globe.

The Abbey has seen a 36 per cent rise in visitor numbers since 2010, according to the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (Alva).

The 700-year-old building saw nearly 1.9 million people walk through its doors, wanting to see not only the place of the Royal Wedding but also the places many royals, poets and leaders are buried and the famous resting place of the Unknown Soldier.

The Abbey was ranked eighth in the top ten visitor attractions; the British Museum took the top spot with the National Gallery in second place.

The British Museum saw 5.84 million visitors last year, 0.01 per cent increase on last year.

The iconic Tower of London also saw an increase, up by 2.55 million on last year, whilst the national portrait gallery rose by 1.88 million.

Alva director Bernard Donoghue said: ‘The figures demonstrate that, for Brits who holidayed at home in record numbers last year, and for overseas visitors who came to the UK in record numbers last year, our iconic attractions are a ‘must see’ and a ‘must experience’.’

‘Even at a time of economic restraint, those attractions which have invested in refurbishment, new exhibitions, new marketing, new catering and retail products have seen a real return on investment and more money for the visitor economy.

‘Domestic visitors have prioritised visits to free attractions but not exclusively; they are mindful of getting value for money and experiencing great quality and they are finding plenty of examples of both.’

1.   British Museum
2.   National Gallery
3.   Tate Modern
4.   Natural History Museum
5.   Science Museum
6.   V&A
7.   Tower of London
8.   Westminster Abbey
9.   National Portrait Gallery
10. St Paul’s Cathedral

 

Blackpool Pleasure Beach stops packed lunches

Visitors are being stopped and searched as thy arrive at Blackpool Pleasure Beach… for the humble pack lunch. The park has decided to only allow visitors to eat food and drink brought inside the park.

Families will have already paid at least £80 just to get into the popular tourist attraction, packed lunches are one way to keep the cost down. But visitors are reportedly being told to consume packed lunches outside the park and being turned away.

Named ‘the sandwich police’, the gate staff search bags on entry and if they find any snacks they are confiscated for the duration of the visit, or visitors are told they must be eaten outside the park.

The policy is completely opposite to other top UK attractions including Alton Towers, Legoland Windsor and London Zoo all of which welcome visitors with their packed lunches.

Bosses are the park have blamed limited space, and said that is why the ‘picnic area’ has been created adjacent to the park.

The pleasure beach, which claims to be Britain’s most popular tourist attraction with 6million visitors a year, said the policy has been in place for years. However many tourists are likely to be deterred by this strict no food rule – almost forcing visitors to buy food within the park, the family day out turns into a very expensive trip.

A spokeswoman for Merlin theme parks – which operates Alton Towers, Thorpe Park, Chessington and Legoland Windsor – said: ‘While more and more people choose to eat in the park restaurants, we have always offered facilities for people to bring and eat their own picnics, and continue to do so.’