Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Terror Fears Hit London Tourist Spots

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Terror Fears Hit London Tourist Spots

Article excerpt

Byline: RASHID RAZAQ

CENTRAL London's major tourist attractions suffered significant falls in visitors last year because of terror fears following the 7 July bombings.

Figures show that visits to some leading destinations were down by as much as a third as sightseers stayed away in the peak holiday months.

Museums and galleries including the National Gallery, Tate Modern, London Eye and Buckingham Palace all recorded declines of 10 per cent or more on the year before.

The biggest losers, according to annual figures from tourist organisation VisitBritain, were the Wallace Collection (down 32 per cent) and the London Theatre Museum (down 20 per cent).

The National Gallery, still the fourth most popular attraction in Britain, saw a fall from nearly five million visitors in 2004 to 4.2 million.

Only a handful bucked the trend. These included out-of-town attractions such as Kew Gardens (up 27 per cent) and the Royal Air Force Museum in Hendon (up 24 per cent).

The biggest winner was Tate Britain (up 60 per cent), a fillip attributed to its two blockbusters, the BP British Art Displays and the Turner Whistler Monet exhibition.

VisitBritain said the decline was caused by fewer British rather than foreign tourists. "Domestic tourists staying away from London had the biggest effect," a spokesman said.

"The bombings coming in July was the worst possible time, as it is the start of the peak season up until September. It is not clear why some attractions suffered more than others.

"There is a central and outer London split, with the family market the first to see a decline."

A spokesman for the Theatre Museum in Covent Garden, where visits were down 20 per cent, said: "About 45 per cent of our visitors are passing trade and all of Covent Garden suffered last year. There was a lack of confidence after the bombings, with school groups and people from the Home Counties staying away.

" But people have returned and the first half of this year has been very encouraging."

Kew Gardens said: "Our increase was down to good weather and a major glass sculpture exhibition by Dale Chihuly."

Falling visitor numbers

2005 % CHANGE

Wallace Collection* 205,695 -32

London Theatre Museum* 182,815 -20

National Gallery* e4,200,000 -15

Museum of London* 395,747 -14

Shakespeare's Globe 269,506 -13

Tate Modern* 3,902,017 -12

London Eye 3,250,000 -12

Buckingham Palace 261,656 -11

Hampton Court Palace 449,957 -10

Tower of London 1,931,093 -10

Kensington Palace 196,836 -9

British Museum* e4,500,000 -7

Science Museum* 2,019,940 -7

Natural History Museum* 3,078,346 -5

Victoria & Albert Museum* 1,920,200 -5

Imperial War Museum* 730,172 -3

London Zoo 841,586 -3

Royal Observatory* 848,670 -2

Tower Bridge 350,000 0

Westminster Abbey 1,027,835 0

Somerset House* e1,200,000 0

National Portrait Gallery* 1,539,766 2

St Paul's Cathedral 729,393 2

Courtauld Gallery 103,700 2

National Maritime Museum* 579,854 3

Cabinet War Rooms 311,481 6

Old Royal Naval College 604,597 10

Wetland Centre, Barnes 178,046 15

RAF Museum, Hendon* 344,154 24

Kew Gardens 1,354,928 27

Tate Britain* 1,738,520 60

*DENOTES FREE ENTRY E DENOTES ESTIMATED FIGURE

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