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Home Tourist Attraction Many South West attractions fail to hit pre-pandemic levels

Many South West attractions fail to hit pre-pandemic levels

by Staff
  • By Kirk England
  • Environment correspondent, BBC Spotlight

Image caption,

The Eden Project remains the most popular attraction in Devon and Cornwall

Many big attractions in the South West are seeing fewer visitors than before the pandemic, according to new figures.

Overall the greater South West’s most popular sites saw 8% more visitors from 2022 to 2023, said the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA).

However, numbers in 2023 were 9% lower than 2019 – the year before the pandemic started.

ALVA said the cost of living crisis and fewer international visitors were behind the trend.

The Eden Project in Cornwall is among the attractions that have struggled to hit 2019 numbers.

It remains the most popular attraction in Devon and Cornwall with 713,000 visitors in 2023, up 8% on 2022, but numbers are down 29% on 2019.

Among those putting on numbers since 2019 was Tintagel Castle, which is up more than 100% on 2019.

Image source, English Heritage

Image caption,

Among those putting on numbers since 2019 was Tintagel Castle in Cornwall

ALVA director Bernard Donoghue said: “We always knew that recovery coming out of Covid and then lockdown was going to be a three, four or five year process and that seems to be the case.

“Lots of attractions are getting much better figures than they did two years ago but they are still not back to 2019 levels.

“And that’s partly because of the cost of living crisis so we’re tending to go out less.

“But it’s also because not all our overseas visitors that came in 2019 are back with us again.”

A spokesperson for the Eden Project said the rise from 2022 to 2023, along with a 14% rise from 2021 to 2022, was a “ringing endorsement of a strong seasonal programme”, the nature’s playground play area and the “continued popularity of our Biomes and outdoor gardens”.

Visitor numbers at Tintagel Castle are up 20% from 2022 to 2023 at 334,000 and up 116% on 2019.

Tintagel Castle Site Manager, Hannah Monteverde said: “People have always been drawn to this beautiful and rugged site by its evocative ruins, coastal vistas and rich legends.

“In recent years we have definitely seen more people coming to Tintagel Castle just to experience the spectacular new footbridge which opened in August 2019.

“It’s made the island more accessible too, which is fantastic”.

Figures from other South West tourism attractions:

  • RHS Rosemoor – up 4% from 2022 to 2023 at 237,660 but down 7% compared with 2019.
  • St Michael’s Mount – up 11% from 2022 to 2023 at 418,364 and up 16% compared with 2019.
  • Haldon Forrest – up 6% from 2022 to 2023 at 469,843 and up 19% compared with 2019.
  • Tate St Ives – down 5% from 2022 to 2023 at 179,179 and down 36% compared with 2019.
  • Killerton House – up 6% from 2022 to 2023 at 209,000, but down 26% compared with 2019.

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