Rise In Visitors For New Forest Museum

The glamour of Hollywood helped swell the number of visitors to UK tourist attractions last year.

With wet weather causing a dip in visits to gardens and outdoor attractions, indoor exhibitions thrived, figures from the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (Alva) showed.

Boosted by the success of its Hollywood costume exhibition, the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) in London had its best-ever year.

With Judy Garland's dress from The Wizard of Oz and Keira Knightley's emerald green outfit from the film Atonement on display, the V&A welcomed more than 3.23 million visitors in 2012 - a 16% increase on 2011.

Another movie-theme exhibition - the 50 years of James Bond cars - helped increase numbers at the motor museum at Beaulieu in the New Forest by 18% to more than 413,000 last year.

The British Museum, with more than 5.57 million visitors, was the most-visited attraction last year, having put on the exhibition Grayson Perry: The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman, highlighting the work of the British artist.

Work from another British artist, Damien Hirst, was on display at the Tate Modern last year where visits increased 9% to nearly 5.32 million.

Also, a popular Lucien Freud exhibition helped the National Portrait Gallery to enjoy a 12% increase in visits, to almost 2.1 million.

The most-visited free attraction outside London was the National Museum of Scotland, which had a 29.11% increase to more than 1,89 million making it the first Scottish attraction to ever appear in the Alva top 10.

Chester Zoo in Cheshire was the most-popular paid-for attraction outside London with more than 1.40 million visits. It was followed by Edinburgh Castle with more than 1.23 million visits.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum in Glasgow also did well last year, seeing a 5.8% increase to more than one million visits.

The wet weather meant that 30 attractions saw double-digit percentage declines in the number of visits last year. Of these, 27 were either gardens or outdoor attractions.

London Zoo had a 10.7% dip in visits to just more than 974,000, while Kew Gardens in London saw numbers fall of almost 14% to just over one million.

Alva director Bernard Donoghue said: ''We are delighted with the visitor figures and although the Olympics deterred visitors from central London and there was a noticeable decline in visitors to attractions while the Games took place, the recovery was almost immediate after the Games left town.''

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