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Monarchy brings in £500 million a year from foreign tourists. says VisitBritain research

  • 30 Jul 2010

Britain’s Monarchy generates well over £500 million a year from overseas tourists, new research from VisitBritain reveals.

Our "culture and heritage’’ in the widest sense - extending from theatres, galleries, to pubs, Premiership Football, castles and stately homes - generated £4.6 billion in total spending by overseas tourists in 2009, and supported 100,000 jobs, the report said.

But within that total one-in-eight of those sites – ranging from the Tower of London to The Palace of  Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh and Ruthin Castle in Wales – are associated with Monarchy. The report reveals that foreign tourists who visited them generated £500 million of spending, directly and indirectly. (1)

The spell cast by the Monarchy’s 1,000 year history combined with the international media frenzy around the current Royal Family is extremely powerful at drawing people to certain iconic locations. Of the 30 million overseas visitors who came to Britain last year 5.8 million visited a castle, 5 million an historic house and 6.4 million a religious monument such as a cathedral.

The Tower of London, scene of the beheading of Anne Boleyn, was the top royal attraction for international visitors in 2009 with 2.4 million visitors. The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich which incorporates The Queen's House, home to the wives of James 1 and Charles 1 and the Royal Observatory was second on 2.3 million.

St Paul’s Cathedral, the setting for Charles and Diana’s marriage ceremony, was fourth on 1.8 million.  Westminster Abbey, the site of Royal Coronations and funerals since Norman times, was next on 1.4 million. The Monarchy in Scotland also holds tourists in its thrall. Edinburgh Castle, indelibly linked to the unfortunate Mary Queen of Scots, received 1.1 million visitors, putting it in sixth position. Windsor Castle, a principal residence of both Queen Elizabeth I and II came seventh with 987,000.

Hampton Court Palace, one of only two surviving palaces associated with the much-married King Henry VIII was ninth with over 540,000 visitors. Buckingham Palace, attracted 402,000 visitors even though it only opens for eight weeks a year. The palace has become a must see on the international tourist agenda since it began opening to the public in 1993, many lured by memories of newly-married Charles and his wife Diana kissing on the balcony.

The report also reveals exclusive findings from a poll of 25,000 potential foreign visitors to Britain commissioned by VisitBritain from the Anholt-GMI Nations Brand Index Survey (2). ''Royal locations'' and ''Castles'' and ''stately homes'' were both among the top three activities that would-be tourists said they would like to do. 

''Sightseeing monuments'' was the third.  Nearly three-quarters of respondents said that they would be likely to visit a castle or stately home were they to visit Britain and 60% said that they would be likely to seek out places associated with the Royal Family or British monarchy.

Then potential tourists were also asked to choose from 15 postcards that they would send to communicate that they were in Britain. They ranged from The London Eye, Tea to  Red Phone Boxes. The icon picked by the most respondents was a red double decker bus (24%) followed by a stone castle by the sea (20%). 

But the third most popular choice, at 11% of respondents, was Queen Elizabeth II, well ahead of fish and chips or draught beer.  Out of the fifteen images the furthest down the league table that The Queen came was 8th, among respondents in Norway. Russians, Indians, Brazilians and Chinese – all key growing markets for UK tourism - were the most likely to agree with the statement ‘I’ve always wanted to see Buckingham Palace.’’

VisitBritain chief executive Sandie Dawe said: ‘’This fascinating research shows Britain’s monarchic heritage draws foreign tourists to just about every corner of the country from Scotland to Cornwall. Her Majesty the Queen celebrates her Diamond Jubilee in 2012, a feat last accomplished back in 1897 by Queen Victoria. This report suggests that year she is going to generate a bonanza for British tourism.’’

For more information contact:

Paul Eastham, Head of Global Corporate Communications on 0207 578 1130  or 07884 326 354
 
Mark Di-Toro, Corporate Press Officer on 020 7578 1098 or 07919 392 137



VISITS MADE IN 2009 TO MONARCHY-RELATED VISITOR ATTRACTIONS

SITE

TOTAL VISITS

CHARGE/FREE

% +/-

Tower of London,Tower Hill, London

2,389,548

C

+11%

National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

2,367,904

F

+15%

Victoria and Albert Museum (South Kensington), London

2,269,880

F

+10%

St Paul’s Cathedral, City of London, London

1,821,321

F/C

+8%

Westminster Abbey, London

1,449,593

F/C

-2.1%

Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland, (Historic Scotland)

1,196,481

C

+6%

Windsor Castle, Windsor, Berkshire

987,000

C

+6.3%

Leeds Castle, Maidstone, Kent,

646,801

C

+12%

Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey

541,646

C

+10%

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, Portsmouth, Hampshire

532,158

F/C

-4.9%

Buckingham Palace, London

402,000

C

+2.0%

V&A Museum of Childhood, London

387,823

F

+10%

Stirling Castle, Ballengeich Pass, Stirling

383,293

C

+2%

Dover Castle, Kent

304,513

C

+4%

Urquhart Castle, Lochness

282,203

F/C

+4%

Kensington Palace

272,606

C

+10.6%

Royal Armouries

271,513

F

+3.45%

HMS Belfast, London

260,423

C

+6.6%

Osborne House, Isle of Wight,

238,931

C

+10%

The Palace of Hoyroodhouse, Edinburgh, Scotland

237,000

C

+9.2%

Castle Howard Yorkshire

232,871

C

+14.9%

Penrhyn Castle, Llandygai, Bangor, Wales

228,820

F/C

+22.2%

Corfe Castle Wareham, Dorset

198,874

F/C

+23.2%

Tintagel Castle, Cornwall

197,283

C

+18%

The Queens Gallery, London

175,000

C

-9.7%

Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire

142,723

C

+58%

1066 Battle of Hastings:Abbey & Battlefield,  Sussex

135,045

C

+11%

Carisbrooke Castle, Isle of Wight

128,388

C

+15%

Clifford’ Tower, York

118,055

C

+3%

Royal Armouries (Fort Nelson, Portsmouth)

76,715

F

+1.62%

 

 
 
 
 Iconic Image chart

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