A 'steamer' on Windermere and Visit England logo superimposed over top

We're back in the top ten most popular “paid for” visitor attractions in England

Published: 11th October 2022
Categories: Media Release

New figures show Windermere Lake Cruises officially returned to the top ten list of ‘paid for’ visitor attractions in England in 2021 despite ongoing disruption caused by the global pandemic.

It’s ranked 4th most visited “paid for” attraction nationally in the VisitEngland list having attracted 1,065,707 visitors in 2021 despite the year beginning with a third national Covid lockdown.

The figures show a strong recovery following the disruption of the global pandemic in 2020.

The Managing Director of Windermere Lake Cruises, Nigel Wilkinson MBE, says: “We are very pleased to have been able to return to a Top Ten ranking after being particularly hard hit with the onset of Covid in 2020.

“The recovery in visitor numbers in 2021 is testament to all the hard work of our teams in developing systems and procedures to be able to operate in a Covid secure manner. They provided customers with confidence that they could visit Windermere safely and enjoyably.”

Nigel adds: “I would like to thank colleagues at all levels within the business for their much-valued contributions and help in getting us through a very difficult period.”

The latest Annual Visitor Attractions Survey collated by VisitEngland, the national tourism body, shows the company’s 17-strong fleet of “steamers”, modern and wooden launches carried out a total of 1,065,707 passenger journeys during 2021.

In the North West region, the attraction is ranked as the second most popular ‘paid-for’ attraction just below Chester Zoo. It’s sister-attraction the Lakeland Motor Museum is ranked at number 18 on the list. Other Cumbrian ‘paid-for’ attractions featuring in the regional top 20 include Ullswater Steamers (8th) the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway (11th) Sizergh Castle (13th) Hill Top (16th) and Lake District Coast Aquarium (20th)

Nigel Wilkinson says: “We are very proud to feature on this list of truly world-class attractions. But there is still work to do to get back to pre-Covid levels, particularly in attracting back our international visitors. Those visitors are a key part of Cumbria’s vitally important visitor economy and we are working hard to ensure our recovery continues.”

Nationally, the pace of recovery after the pandemic varied substantially across visitor attraction categories. Site closures in 2021 associated with lockdowns and opening restrictions meant a reduced season with required health and safety standards also seeing many sites operating with reduced visitor capacity, as well as the ongoing impacts from the absence of international visitors.

The survey shows that while visits to visitor attractions in England increased by 30% overall last year compared to 2020, as attractions began to reopen and build back from the pandemic, 2021 visitor numbers were still down 55% on 2019.

VisitEngland Director Andrew Stokes says: “While it is good to see that attractions started to make up some lost ground last year, these statistics are a stark reminder of the severe impacts on many of England’s visitor attractions which, even as they reopened in 2021, had to operate with much reduced capacity. It also underscores the importance of international visitors especially to our city attractions.

“From our world-renowned museums, galleries, castles and historic houses to our rural, wildlife and outdoor attractions, our outstanding visitor attractions are crucial to our tourism offer, also boosting local economies across England. We know it has also been a mixed picture for many attractions across England this summer highlighting the importance of extending the season through autumn and beyond.”

Further Reading

For full details of the Annual Visitor Attractions Survey, see the VisitEngland website

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