Royal tourist attractions 'bring in £500m a year'

BRITAIN'S monarchy-related attractions are generating more than £500 million a year in overseas tourist spending, it was revealed yesterday.

Culture and heritage, including theatres, galleries and pubs, helped raise 4.6 billion in spending by foreign residents last year, according to a report from VisitBritain.

Of the 30m overseas visitors who came to Britain last year, 5.8m visited a castle, 5m a historic house and 6.4m a religious monument such as a cathedral.

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The Tower of London was the top royal attraction for international visitors in 2009 with just under 2.4m visitors - up 11 per cent on 2008.

The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, south London, was second on 2.37m, with the Victoria and Albert Museum in London third with 2.27m.

Edinburgh Castle, home to the Honours of Scotland and Stone of Destiny, received 1.1m visitors, putting it in sixth position. Windsor Castle, a principal residence of both Queen Elizabeth I and II came seventh, with 987,000.

In a VisitBritain-commissioned survey of 25,000 potential foreign visitors to Britain, nearly three-quarters said they would be likely to visit a castle or stately home and 60 per cent said they would be likely to seek out places associated with the Royal Family or British monarchy.

Asked to choose which of 15 postcards they would send home to indicate they were in Britain, the first choice was a card showing a red double-decker bus. The third most-picked card was a picture of the Queen.

VisitBritain chief executive Sandie Dawe said: "This fascinating research shows Britain's monarchic heritage draws foreign tourists to just about every corner of the country, from Scotland to Cornwall.

"The Queen celebrates her diamond jubilee in 2012, a feat last accomplished back in 1897 by Queen Victoria. This report suggests that year she is going to generate a bonanza for British tourism."