Tourism boom as Yorkshire's 'diverse' attractions see it out-perform rest of the country

Harewood House in Leeds opened at Christmas for the first time in five years in 2017 - and saw visitor numbers increase by a quarter
Harewood House in Leeds opened at Christmas for the first time in five years in 2017 - and saw visitor numbers increase by a quarter
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From historic houses to thrill-seeking rides, Yorkshire’s “diverse” tourist attractions helped the region outperform all other areas in England last year, with the greatest rise in visitor numbers.

VisitEngland’s annual attractions survey showed a seven per cent increase in visits to the region’s museums, galleries, theme parks and other attractions from 2016 to 2017 - the highest in the country.

Flamingo Land in North Yorkshire saw the highest number of visitors of the paid-for attractions, with just under 1.7m - a rise of 5 per cent; while Sheffield’s Millennium Galleries retained its place at the top spot of free attractions, despite a slight fall in visitor numbers.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Hull’s attractions fared well as visitors flocked to special events held as part of the City of Culture celebrations.

The Deep welcomed 691,716 visitors, up 13 per cent and ranking it fourth of all paid-for attractions in Yorkshire; while Ferens Art Gallery and the Maritime Museum featured in the top ten of all free to visit attractions, with latter seeing a huge 395 per cent increase in visitors on the previous year.

Chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, Sir Gary Verity said the figures were “magnificent news”.

“Through events like the Tour de Yorkshire which have showcased the county on a global scale, as well as high profile national marketing campaigns taking Yorkshire across the country, it’s great to see everyone’s hard work paying off and our attractions reaping the benefits.

“We’re incredibly fortunate to have such a diverse range of leading world-class attractions throughout the county to suit all ages and interests, including culture, heritage, activity, science, nature and wildlife. With something for everyone, Yorkshire is a must-visit destination for people all over the world.’’

Nationally, historic properties experienced significant growth in visitor numbers last year, with mills, monuments, boats and burial grounds saw the largest increase in visitor numbers, up eight per cent on 2016.

The British Museum was the most visited 'free' attraction for the 10th consecutive year, with nearly six million visitors, while the Tower of London topped the list as the most visited ‘paid for’ attraction with 2.8 million visitors.

The attraction of historic properties was also seen in Yorkshire, with Harewood House in Leeds, which featured prominently in the ITV drama Victoria, seeing visits increase by a quarter.

Harewood House Trust director Jane Marriott, said: “2017 was an excellent year for visitors to Harewood House and we are delighted to see the statistics.

“Our ambition, as a charity, is to create new and bold exhibitions for our visitors, such as costume displays relating to ITV’s Victoria series and working with world renowned set designers such as the late Michael Howells. This has all led to a significant jump in visitor figures.

“The positive and exciting engagement we now have with our visitors, encouraged us to dare to open the House at Christmas for the first time in years and it was a great success.

“Last year represented a confident shift in programming, and we have continued to be ambitious and ever-changing in our proposition this year. We hope this will continue to excite our visitors and reap positive benefits again for the region.”