Following a relatively robust performance during 2008-10, the historic and cultural visitor attractions industry is beginning to feel the impact of the government’s Comprehensive Spending Review. There are now concerns about survival and how budget cuts will impact on investment in products and services, and on the overall quality of the visitor experience in which a lot has been invested in recent years.
This report updates Mintel’s previous report, Historic and Cultural Visitor Attractions – UK – November 2008.
- The economic downturn and subsequent weak consumer confidence have broadly benefited the historic and cultural visitor attractions market in the UK, boosting domestic tourism (the so-called ‘Staycation’ trend) as more people have holidayed at home amid concerns about their job prospects and a weak pound making foreign holidays less affordable. The downside to the global recession has been that overseas tourism to the UK – a key market for attractions – has also contracted.
- Attractions have been working hard to improve the visitor experience. The most prevalent examples of this are in the form of technology such as apps for mobile phones. Other examples include bringing history to life through re-enactments and tying in attractions with movies and/or popular TV series.
- UK historic and cultural attractions had an estimated 121 million visitors in 2010, up by 15% on 2005 levels. Museums and galleries account for around 60% of total visits, with historic properties accounting for the balance. Two-thirds of adults have been to some form of historic and cultural attraction in the past year, with museums the most popular choice, visited by around two in five.
- Internet and word of mouth (eg recommendations from friends and relatives) are the most popular sources of information for visits. These findings underline how crucial it is for attractions’ websites to come up on internet searches but also that venues should never underestimate the power of recommendation either.
- Key motivations for making a visit include special events and exhibitions and doing something as a family. What this illustrates is that venues will do better if they can give people a reason for coming at a particular time, while the success of the National Trust’s ‘Time Well Spent’ campaign shows how important a motivation having time with the family is for many consumers.
- There is concern among the historic and cultural visitor attraction community that the recent (in some cases severe) cuts in government funding will jeopardise the ability of the sector to carry on delivering improvements to the customer experience and that it may result in the closure and/or scaling back of the activities of a number of attractions.