Eastern region’s tourist attractions top national league table for growth

The new penguin enclosure called Penguin Cove at Banham Zoo which is in the top 10 regional league t

The new penguin enclosure called Penguin Cove at Banham Zoo which is in the top 10 regional league table for attraction visitor numbers. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015

Attractions in the East of England have seen the biggest increase in visitor numbers of any region in the country, according to a new survey.

VisitEngland's Annual Attractions Survey for 2014 reveals that the number of people visiting attractions in the East last year grew by 10pc compared with 2013 - this compares with an average rise across England as a whole of 4pc.

Wroxham Barns featured third in a top 10 league table for free attractions in the East while Dinosaur Adventure and Banham Zoo both made the top 10 for paid for attractions.

All nine regions registered increases, with the North East (7pc), the South East and the North West (both 6pc), and the West Midlands (5pc) also seeing above average growth.

However, the major destinations of London, the South West and Yorkshire saw increases of just 2pc, behind the East Midlands on 3pc.

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VisitEngland said that warmer weather in 2014 has supported growth in coastal regions, which showed average growth of 7pc – a factor which is likely to have contributed to the growth in the East.

The strongest growth was reported by farms and visitor/heritage centres, which both reported 10pc increases in visitor numbers. Above average growth was also reported by wildlife attractions/zoos (6pc), and country parks, gardens and historic houses/castles (all 5pc), with steam/heritage railways (4pc) in line with the national trend.

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However, growth was below average for other types of historic properties, leisure/theme parks and museums/art galleries (all 3pc) and workplaces, such as breweries, distilleries, vineyards and craft centres, (1pc). Despite the East being the fastest growing region, none of its attractions make it into VisitEngland's rankings of the country's most popular attractions.

Martin Dupee, chairman of Norfolk Tourist Attractions Association, said: 'The investment being put into attractions across our region has played a big part in this success story, and also the fact we are the driest area of the country.

'It is also down to the fact that the quality of attractions and destinations in our region is unrivalled anywhere else.'

Mr Dupee, who is operations director at Banham Zoo and Africa Alive and, until recently, held a similar role too at Dinosaur Adventure, said 2014 had been a record year for both Africa Alive and Dinosaur Adventure and the second best year on record for Banham.

He said: '2015 seems to be going equally well. Our figures are on a par with last year.'

Email your business stories to ben.woods@archant.co.uk

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