Gardens, zoos among favourites for visitors in England

Gardens and zoos registered the highest growth in visitors to attractions last year, according to a recent survey published by VisitEngland.

The Annual Attractions Survey found that historic houses and castles reported a seven percent increase in visitor numbers, and country parks a four percent increase. Outdoor attractions performed particularly well, with gardens and zoos showing growth of eight percent.

The survey was conducted by BDRC-Continental and gathered information from more than 1,500 English visitor attractions. Similar to VisitEngland’s Great Britain Tourism Survey results, coastal and rural attractions experienced strong growth of four percent and five percent respectively.

Tourism Minister John Glen said: ‘We have an amazing range of world-class attractions in England that draw in millions of visitors every year. Whether it is our unique historic buildings, internationally important museums or stunning gardens, there is a huge amount to see and do.

‘Ensuring that all parts of the country benefit from our tourism industry is a key government priority so it is fantastic to see such growth across the regions.’

VisitEngland Chief Executive Sally Balcombe added, ‘There are so many outstanding attractions offering year-round experiences throughout the country and it’s great to see Brits enjoyed 2016’s ‘Year of the English Garden’. Attractions are a much loved and valuable part of the tourism landscape, adding colour and variety to the visitor experience and encouraging people to get out and explore, driving the value of tourism across the regions.’

The British Museum was the most visited free attraction in England in 2016, for the ninth consecutive year, with nearly 6.5 million visitors. This was followed by the National Gallery which had more than 6.2 million visitors. Among the paid for locations, the Tower of London topped the list for the eight consecutive year, with 2.7 million visitors, and Chester Zoo registered its highest ever ranking – second place, with nearly 1.9 million visitors.

According to the latest VisitEngland figures, for the first four months of 2017, Brits took a record 11.4 million holiday trips in England.

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, – 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, 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, 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.

‘ 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 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.


9/11 museum construction back on track

Work on a museum to be built at Ground Zero in New York to pay tribute to victims of the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre, which took place 11 years ago today, is to continue after the resolution of a disagreement over funding for the project.

Had work gone ahead on the project without interruption, the museum would have been scheduled to open on today’s anniversary, but despite the delays, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg has now been able to announce that the work is set to continue.

The project has been beset with financial wrangles, mainly involving a fee of GBP187.3million requested by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the Ground Zero site. The authority was claiming the money for additional design and construction beyond what had been specified in the original plans. The project trustee, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum Foundation, had decided to delay construction until the wrangle had been resolved.

According to mayor Bloomberg, ‘a memorandum of understanding’ has now been issued, and he commented, ‘my goal during this period has been to get construction on the museum restarted. This agreement ensures that it will be restarted very soon and will not stop until the museum is completed.’

It is understood that the terms of the memorandum involve the museum opening in phases, with increasing public access. Admission to the museum is expected to cost USD20, and when finished it will have 110,000 square feet of exhibition space, with exhibits including personal property that belonged to some of the 3,000 victims that was collected from the ruined buildings in the aftermath of the attack.

The Louvre Offers Nintendo Consoles For Better Viewing Experience

The Louvre Museum, in Paris, France, is partnering with Nintendo, the Japan-based electronics company, to offer its visitors a new viewing experience at the museum.

The world’s most visited art museum and former main residence of the French monarchy is offering a new set of computer consoles – in place of handheld audio devices – to its visitors for a more entertaining art viewing experience. Made by Nintendo, these portable handsets offer a small screen and around 35 hours of audio content in 700 different commentaries, including art lectures and interviews with museum curators. The devices will be offering additional high-resolution images of the famous artwork on display at the museum, including Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and the ancient Greek sculpture the Venus de Milo.

The devices will also offer various tours, guiding visitors and art enthusiasts through the museum’s labyrinth of hallways, rooms and chambers, to the most important of the artworks on display. The Masterpieces trail will take visitors through around 35,000 works of art, and a second trail will guide them through a collection of ancient Egyptian antiques and artefacts.

Nintendo’s chief games designer, Shigeru Miyamoto, said in a visit to the museum, ‘I was here for a few hours and by the end I had no idea where I was.’ He feels that designing the software for the new electronic console has given him a much better understanding of the museum floors.

The consoles are not part of the museum’s admission ticket, but may be rented additionally, for a fee of €5.00 per person.

Voices from Titanic arrive at a Singapore Museum

A Century after RMS Titanic sank in the North Atlantic, just two hours and 40 minutes after striking an iceberg, and with a loss of more than two thirds of the passengers and crew. The story has lost none of its power to shock.  The arrival of the long-running artifacts exhibition in Singapore brings the raw emotion of Titanic’s infamous maiden voyage, aided by an audio narrative from imagineear.

The exhibition narrative tells the human stories behind the tragedy of the Titanic – the world’s largest, ‘practically unsinkable’ passenger vessel– illustrated by over 250 artifacts recovered from almost four kilometers beneath the freezing North Atlantic.  With over 25 million tickets sold worldwide to date, fascination with the Titanic shows no sign of waning.  But imagineear’s Chief Executive, Andrew Nugée, felt that a whole new approach to the narrative was necessary:  “This is a story, the cold facts of which are well known, and indeed have passed into legend.  We felt that a new audience in Singapore deserved a fresh approach to the human stories, to provide the small domestic detail of the multiple personal tragedies, as well as the broader importance of the largest such peacetime disaster of the day.”

Nine galleries will lead visitors through the ship’s conception, construction and launch, as well as following her passengers and crew through the sailing, life on board, the iceberg and the sinking a century ago.  The exhibition also tells the fascinating and evolving story of the discovery of the wreck, and the recovery and preservation of its artefacts.

Tom Zaller, Museum Director, ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands, said “Titanic is such an iconic ship with such a powerful story to tell that we’re proud to present Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition at such an equally iconic venue.  For the first time in Singapore and Southeast Asia, visitors will travel back in time to relive Titanic’s majestic maiden voyage and experience the drama that unfolded as the world’s largest ship sank to the depths of the Atlantic Ocean.”

To understand the impact of Titanic in Singapore, a new gallery named “Singapore 1912” will be dedicated to local connections.  Visitors will learn how the Titanic tragedy strongly resonated in Singapore.  Images of Singapore in the early 1900s will be displayed alongside local newspaper articles that covered the disaster at the time, alongside archaeological finds from the period.

“ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands is committed to bringing blockbuster exhibitions to Singapore that are accessible to people of all ages and interests”, added Mr Zaller.  “With Titanic: The Artefact Exhibition, we’ve taken this one step further and enhanced its relevance to Singaporeans by demonstrating the impact of global developments here, even in the early 20th Century.”

Save 50%* off Nile cruises 04 July 2011 – October 2012

7-night Nile cruise holiday from £699 for first traveller and £349.50 for the second

A Nile cruise is not just a relaxing sail down the Nile – it offers holidaymakers access to the world’s largest open air museum and some of the most amazing ancient archeological monuments and sites that still stand after 6,000 years.

Discover Egypt

is currently offering a special saving on a selection of Nile cruises – a seven night Nile cruise for two with the second person paying half the price.

Enjoy a full board seven night cruise on board the five star Viking Princess with ten guided excursions, return flights and transfers in resort from just £699 for the first person and £349.50 for the second person.
Packages on board other ships, the Royal Viking, have prices starting from £899 with second traveller from £449.50 and Alexander the Great, from £1,399 and £699.50 respectively. Half price single supplement offers are applicable on board the Viking Princess and Royal Viking.

This offer is valid for travel between 04 July 2011 and October 2012 on selected departures from Gatwick. Flights from Birmingham, Heathrow or Manchester are available at a supplement.

These are some of the highlights that holidaymakers will visit along the way:
• Valley of the Kings – one of the most famous archeological sites in the world and a World Heritage site since 1979. The valley is a burial site where tombs were constructed for the Pharaohs for 500 years from the 16th to 11th century BC. Its most famous tomb is that of Tutankhamun, discovered by Howard Carter in 1922.
• Temple of Hatshepsut – the temple of Queen Hatshepsut is close to the Valley of the Kings and is one of the most significant monuments of ancient Egypt. Considered the closest Egypt came to Classical Architecture and marked a turning point in the architecture of Ancient Egypt. Queen Hatshepsut was a rare female Pharaoh (late 16th century – 1482 BC) and considered by Egyptologists as one of the most successful.
• Valley of the Queens – the burial place for the wives of Pharaoh’s and often their children, located close to the Valley of the Kings. The area is said to hold seventy tombs that are all lavishly decorated, one of the most famous being the tomb for Queen Nefertari carved out of the rock.
• Colossi of Memnon – this is one of the most imposing ancient monuments on the West Bank and features two huge stone statues of Pharaoh Amenhotep III that have sat in the Theban necropolis for 3,400 years, just across the Nile from Luxor.
• Temple of Karnak – the Temple complex of Karnak is the largest ancient religious site in the world and is a vast mix of ruined temples, chapels, pylons and other buildings, including the Great Temple of Amun and a massive structure started by Pharaoh Ramses II between 1391-1351 BC).
• Temple of Luxor – another spectacular temple complex in the city of Luxor that was started by Queen Hatshepsut, with later additions added by Amenhotep III and Rameses II.
• Temple of Horus (Edfu) – located near the city of Edfu this is the second largest temple in Egypt after Karnak and one of the best preserved. It is dedicated to the falcon god, Horus and was built in the Ptolemaic period between 237 and 57 BC.
• Temple of Sobek (Kom Ombo) – located 40 kms from Aswan in the town of Kom Ombo this temple was built in 180 BC with later additions added in Roman times. The temple stands on what was an important crossroads between the caravan route from Nubia and trails from the gold mines in the eastern desert. On a bend in the Nile, a spot favoured by crocodiles, the temple was dedicated to Sobek, the crocodile god.
• Temple of Philae – Philae is an island in the Nile close to Aswan and the previous site of an ancient Egyptian temple complex. The complex was relocated in a major feat of engineering to the nearby Agilka Island after it was nearly lost under water in the 1960s due to the construction of the High Dam. The temple is dedicated to the goddess Isis, the wife of Osiris and mother of Horus.