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


Egypt attempts to bring back tourists

In an attempt to entice tourists back, following rebellion and violence in recent months, Egypt and Tunisia have begun promotional campaigns. These campaigns will show these holiday destinations as safe and attractive and hopefully instil confidence in tourists that have stayed away.


‘Welcome to the country of peaceful revolution’ is the slogan that Egypt has decided to use following a violent beginning to the year with protests against former president Hosni Mubarak.


The campaigns have been highlighted in the global trends report by market analyst Euromonitor International as part of the World Travel Market (WTM) opening today in London.


WTM chairman Fiona Jeffery said: ‘The speed at which the marketing campaigns have been launched demonstrates the importance the new democracies in Egypt and Tunisia have put on inbound tourism for their long-term economic future.


‘Tourism can help build up these countries’ new democracies and has the potential to do so across all the Arab Spring countries.’


Also named by the WTM 2011 industry report were up and coming holiday destinations for the coming years; Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico and Argentina (SLIMMAs).


Following investments in ‘infrastructure and natural beauty’ could see this group of countries overtake rival top tourist destinations Brazil, Russia, India and China.


Tourist tax begins in Venice

Venice has become even more expensive for tourists, when last week the ‘tourist tax’ came in to force.

When plans emerged from the Venetian authorities last year about the plans to charge tourists a fee for overnight stays, they were met with critisism.

Tourists wanting a relaxing weekend break will now have to pay as much as €5 per person.

The fee is determined by hotel star-ratings, with a couple staying in a 3-star hotel paying an extra €6 on top of the bill.

Luxury travellers staying at one of the city’s gilded five-star options – such as the celebrated Hotel Cipriani – will have to pay the full €5 each.

Defending the ‘tourist tax’ Venice has suggested it is a cultural donation rather than a government levy interested in squeezing a little more from its tourist economy that sees 60,000 people visit every day.

Imposed to protect the city, the imposta di soggiorno, is said to be needed to protect the heritage of Venice which was once at the centre of the European empire.

‘This tax is a new and important opportunity for the city,’ Venice’s deputy mayor Sandro Simionato recently said. ‘The fundamental objective, which will also involve tourists who visit and love Venice, is to save this unique city, which is precious and fragile.’

A brochure outlines the reasons behind the new tax.

‘You will become one of the city’s sponsors, contributing to safeguarding it,’ the brochure explains.

It is illustrate with a sticker that states: ‘Thank you for being a sponsor of the splendour of Venice.’

Mr Simionato’s also stated:

‘The tax will help finance tourism, maintenance of cultural heritage sites, the environment, as well as public services’.

This may not please the tourists that will now be sponsoring domestic funding for the city.

Local authorities will be allowed, through government rules, the spend revenue on public services – tourists could end up paying for matters that should be covered by Italian tax euros.

Windsor Castle’s famous round tower is reopened

Yesterday the world famous round tower at Windsor Castle re-opened it’s doors to the public for the first time in almost 40 years.

Closed in 1975 for construction work including under-pinning to stop subsidence, the tower was then converted into offices for the Royal Archives, and hasn’t open to the public until now.

The 800-year-old landmark in Berkshire will no doubt be a top tourist attraction over the summer months.

The re-opening will also be marked with a new tour ‘Conquer the Tower’. This will include walking up the 200 step to take in views over London and Windsor from 65.5 meters up.

The round tower was build by Henry II in 1170. William the Conqueror then replaced the heath stone with wooden Norman keep.

At the heart of the property sits an artificial mound, called a motte, formed by chalk spoil from the surrounding ditch.

Today the tower looks as it did when George IV remodelled it in the 1820’s. In line with his romantic notion of castle architecture, the tower was heightened by nine metres and given gothic-style battlements.

The 45-minute Conquer the Tower tours will run daily until September 30.