Queen's tourist pull questioned as train museum proves more popular than Buck Palace
Figures released today by the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) have challenged the conventional wisdom that the monarchy is a big tourist draw. The British Museum topped the annual league table of admission numbers, with 5.6m visitors in 2012. The Tower of London - a former royal residence now run by Historic Royal Palaces - came in at number seven, with 2.4m visitors. But when visitor numbers for the occupied royal palaces – released separately each year in the Royal Collection Trust's annual report – are inserted into the table, Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle are comfortably beaten by even minor regional attractions. Buckingham Palace attracted just 613,000 visitors in 2011/12, putting it at number 42 behind the National Railway Museum in York and Tate Liverpool. Windsor Castle, meanwhile, welcomed 1.2m visitors – fewer than Chester Zoo. Graham Smith, chief executive of the pressure group Republic, which calls for an elected head of state, commented: "We've always said that the idea the monarchy brings in tourists is a fantasy – these figures seem to confirm that." "Research shows that tourists come here for our world class museums, beautiful scenery, fantastic shopping and captivating history - not because they might catch a glimpse of Prince Andrew." "The truth is Britain is more than capable of being a fantastic tourist destination without a monarchy." "Of course, our opposition to the monarchy is based on principle - not how many postcards we can sell. But as long as the Palace peddles the myth that the royal family are good for tourism, it's important that it's challenged with hard evidence."
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