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More visitors at entry-free museums

Free entry to many famous museums helped admissions to England's leading visitor attractions rise 3% in 2010.

The biggest draw last year proved to be the British Museum in London where free admission boosted numbers to 5.84 million - nearly 5% more than in 2009, VisitEngland said.

The second-biggest attraction last year was the admission-free Tate Modern in London which welcomed 5.06 million visitors - 6.6% more than in 2009.

Among free-admission tourist spots where numbers increased the most last year were the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (up 15.8% to 2.63 million), the Natural History Museum in London (up 13.2% to 4.64 million) and Tate Britain in London (up 10.9% to 1.66 million).

Top admission-charging attraction last year was the Tower of London which had around 2.41 million visitors - 1.0% up on the 2009 figure.

But some famous paid-for attractions suffered dips in visits last year, with Westminster Abbey 3.8% down at 1.39 million, Kew Gardens in south-west London down 12.4% at 1.14 million and London Zoo down 4.5% at 1.01 million.

Visits to museums and art galleries rose 5% in 2010, with higher rises than this among those that were free.

Country parks were up by 5%, and workplaces and places of worship up by 4%.

Across the regions, the strongest performance was in London, where admissions rose 6%, and the North West and South East both up 3%.

VisitEngland chief executive James Berresford said: "England has a wealth of top-class visitor attractions, many of which are free. We know Britons are even more worried about the economy and this will have an impact on their holiday choices."


From Belfast Telegraph