The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has announced new research showing that heritage-based tourism is now worth £26.4bn to the UK economy - £5.8bn higher than the previous estimate published in 2010.
The report also suggests that heritage is playing an increasingly important part in the choices of Britons who decide to stay in the UK for their holiday - more than a quarter of all UK holiday activities undertaken by UK residents now involve heritage.
HLF published its first report on heritage tourism, ‘Investing in Success’, compiled by Oxford Economics¹, in 2010, based on data from 2007. The report analysed the impact of the heritage-based visitor economy and established that the sector made an even bigger contribution to UK GDP than the advertising, car manufacturing or film industries. The new analysis draws on the latest visitor statistics from 2011.
HLF chair Dame Jenny Abramsky said: "Heritage is a strong driver for both international and domestic visitors and an especially powerful draw for those who choose to stay in the UK for their holiday. We should be thankful that we have such a rich and diverse heritage to offer - from our world-class museums, historic country houses to coastlines and beautiful landscapes."
Heritage Alliance chair Loyd Grossman, speaking on the links between heritage and the tourism business at July 10's Tourism Alliance AGM, added: ‘I‘m delighted that these figures once again clearly demonstrate the links between heritage and tourism. This is incontestable proof that our unique heritage is one of our major national assets and can contribute to our national economic recovery. Heritage means business for Britain."
The higher figure of £26.4bn is explained by a rise of 13 per cent in both international visits to the UK for holidays and the number of overnight holiday stays in the UK made by UK residents. Domestic day trips (over the longer period 2005-11) rose by 47 per cent.
People were spending more on these trips: International visitors on holiday were spending 28 per cent more per visit in 2011 than in 2007, and UK residents on holiday were spending seven per cent more.
For UK residents on holiday in the UK, 28 per cent of the total activities they undertook were to a heritage site or attraction.
The HLF says Croome Park in Worcestershire is a good example of a lottery-funded restoration that has drawn more visitors since re-opening. In April 1996, the National Trust, with funding from HLF, began a decade-long project to restore the landscape to its original design.
The number of visitors has increased by 342 per cent compared with 2006, resulting in a growth in income of 183 per cent. Furthermore, the number of staff employed at the park has increased by 500 per cent and purchases have risen by 238 per cent.
‘The Economic Impact of the UK Heritage Economy’ (May 2013) by Kareen El Beyrouty and Andrew Tessler – Oxford Economics - full report available at www.hlf.org.uk.