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Heritage and Tourism

The historic environment plays a major role in attracting domestic and international tourism. This in turn supports thousands of jobs and contributes to national and local economic growth.

More tourists plan to visit historic sites than go to museums, theatres or sports events. In 2014 there were at least 67 million visits to heritage sites in England.

On this page you can read the results of our research into the historic environment’s role in tourism:

Jugglers performing to a crowd.
Entertaining the crowds at Muncaster International Jester Tournament 2012 © Brian Sherwen/Muncaster Castle

Heritage tourism trend data

Since 2002 Historic England has collected data on visits to heritage attractions.

In partnership with Historic England, the National Trust, Historic Houses Association, Heritage Open Days and VisitEngland, visits data is available in the Public engagement spreadsheet, produced as part of Heritage Counts.

Using the data it is possible to observe trends in visits and the effects, if any, of events such as the recession or the Olympics.

Survey of visits to historic attractions

In 2014, there were at least 66.7 million visits to historic attractions in England according to research by VisitEngland on behalf of Historic England.

The research breaks down this figure in detail in the survey of visits to historic attractions publication, including:

  • The origin of visitors (domestic/international)
  • Type of attraction
  • Visits by region
  • Whether the attraction charges for admission, and admission charges

The research has also started to consider the way historic attractions are using social media and digital communications.

Reports are available from previous years from Heritage Counts. Further resources are available on VisitEngland’s website. 

Economic impact of heritage tourism

Studies have shown that heritage tourism supports approximately 134,000 direct jobs and £5.1bn direct economic output. This research, conducted by Oxford Economics for the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) in 2013, is available from the Heritage Lottery Fund website.

The HLF have brought together their findings into a single publication: Investing in Success – Heritage and the UK tourism economy.

Historic England has produced a fact sheet with all the key figures relating to heritage and the economy, including tourism.


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Adala Leeson


Engagement Group

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