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Digital visitor offer vital for historic sites

The Director of Planning at Historic England has said that the digital offer for international tourists must be stepped up as the numbers of those visiting historic properties in the UK continues to increase, supporting our inward economy (see the video clip above).

Ian Morrison was talking at our "cultural tourism and cities" round table last week about how grateful he is for the government injection of over £50 million towards visitor interpretation of castles and historic houses. The funding he says was given because the UK government sees heritage tourism as one of the important drivers in the economy.

Data, Ian suggests: 'shows £16 billion to the inward economy from this branch of tourism and that the UK is 5th out of 50 nations, in terms of the perceived value of our heritage. Domestic tourism' he continues, 'has grown by 70% over the last 10 years, and there are increasing pressures on hotspots.'

London, Edinburgh and Bath, Historic England states, are the top cities attracting visitors from outside the UK with the Tower of London the most favoured attraction.

Ian says 'this can be a problem for visitors, where some monuments because of the number of visitors are becoming an uncomfortable experience. On the other hand, it is hoped in the future, that these top attractions because of the money they draw, will support investments in less popular sites, in terms of ongoing development where it has been difficult to attract investment.'

'Place' is becoming a key consideration, Ian explains, and Historic England must have a constant eye on the long term future: ' the value of these historic places has the potential to be eroded by insensitive development under constant pressure from a growing tourism market, which must be managed sustainably.'

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