The weather, the political climate and worry about travelling abroad are all factors that help British attractions. The staycation ethos has led to more Brits staying at home and enjoying some homegrown comforts. These include visits to some of the many attractions to be found around the UK.
Brits are choosing leisure activities over holidays abroad in 2019. Spending was on average £90 a month in 2018 on leisure activities based on Office of National Statistics’ data. This is expected to jump to £163 a month this year, equating to £8.2 billion in total across the UK. Part of that increase will be spent on catering.
Legoland in Windsor emerged as the most visited amusement park in the UK in 2018; recording an attendance of 2.32 million. It was followed closely by Alton Towers, Thorpe Park and Chessington World of Adventures. The four dominate the list as the most visited theme parks in the UK.
But as far as other attractions go, there are plenty around the country. According to a report in March, visitor numbers at UK attractions such as museums, galleries, zoos, castles and country houses rose in this period by 9% despite fewer overseas tourists. So positive news for catering businesses able to reach this potential market.
More and Less Visitors
Tate Modern knocked the British Museum off the top spot which it held for 11 years. Statistically, Scotland outperformed the rest of the UK for the seventh year running. It had a 19.07% increase due in part to more flights to the country, investment by the Scottish government and lottery into the sector and an increase in film and TV tourism.
However, the climate, including the hot summer and Beast from the East storms played a major role in decreasing numbers for some outdoor attractions. Attendance at Bristol Zoo was down 8.6% and Whipsnade Zoo down 7.6%. The most-visited attraction outside London in England was Chester Zoo and the most-visited heritage site was Stonehenge.
Food as Part of the Attraction
Tourism is the UK’s fifth-biggest industry and third-biggest employer. Some attractions are using their imagination to entice visitors in, such as Alton Towers with its Rollercoaster Restaurant. Food arrives by rollercoaster, with the décor reflecting the roller coaster ride.
Food is part of the experience. This is shown by the success of a very unusual theme park a bit further afield. In South Korea there is a theme park dedicated entirely to cheese. The Imsil Cheese Park offers 32 acres of trails and attractions, all of which offer various tributes and nods to cheese. There is a notable absence of rollercoasters; but visitors can enjoy themed walking trails, mini cheese-themed rides, cheese-making classes, and buildings that look like blocks of cheese.
And this theme is filtering into the UK with a new restaurant under proposal in London with DC Entertainment. The application states: “the restaurant will be rooted within the DC Multiverse, taking visitors on a culinary adventure through the many fictional Universes famous for their superhero residents such as Batman, Superman and Wonderwoman. The restaurant will not be a ‘theme park’ with literal sets and costumes from the franchise, but it has the intention to invite guests to experience the DC Universe.”
All this goes to show that fast, scary rides are not necessarily the main attraction and incorporating a culinary experience with a theme may be the way forward for some enterprising food entrepreneur. Or perhaps the linking of current venues outside of theme parks for mutual benefit which worked well for Ludlow.