Visitor numbers increase at South West’s major attractions

Stonehenge (Credit: Szilas / CC BY-SA 4.0)

Major visitor attractions in the South West saw an 8% increase in visitor numbers in 2023, but they remained below the pre-pandemic peak.

The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) has today released the visitor figures of its members, which welcomed 146.6m people nationally last year.

This is still 11% below the 2019 visitor numbers, despite a 19% year-on-year increase.

Two South West attractions were among the largest annual increases – Stonehenge saw a 36% increase with 1.33m visitors and Bath’s Roman Baths and Pump Room jumped 25% with 1.06m people.

The other South West sites that attracted more than 500,000 people were Moors Valley Country Park and Forest in Dorset (821,000), Longleat in Wiltshire (800,000), and Cornwall’s Eden Project (713,000).

Bernard Donoghue OBE, director of ALVA, said: “Our members are not yet back to hosting the same number of visitors that they did in 2019, but they are really delighted that even in a challenging cost-of-living climate visitors are still prioritising spending special time with special people at special places.

“Whilst the extension of tax relief for museums, theatres and galleries was a very welcome announcement in the recent Budget, there was a missed opportunity to reintroduce tax free shopping for overseas visitors, which would have improved the UK’s international competitiveness, and reduce VAT for tourism and hospitality which would have helped businesses repair their balance sheets.”