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Art is the Key Figures released this week by the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) reveal that it is art and cultural attractions that seem to float visitors' boats these days.

The British Museum scooped the honour of being the UK's most popular attraction for the sixth consecutive year while Tate Modern upped the ante last year with a Damien Hirst retrospective, rising from third to second position in a year.

The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions is an organisation with some

42 member companies, between them accounting for over 2,000 of Great Britain's visitor attractions. They include Kew's Royal Botanic Gardens, English Heritage and the National Trust. Each year the ALVA publishes data highlighting the country's most successful sites and year on year comparisons.

Number one British site, The British Museum, attracted over five and half million visitors. Its success was in part attributed to its Grayson Perry – The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman exhibit. Also in London the Victoria and Albert Museum, welcoming over three million visitors over the year, had its best twelve months to date with a 16 per cent rise in attendance in the period. Likewise the National Portrait Gallery with its Lucian Freud Portraits saw a very respectable increase of 12 per cent.

Outside London there were other great success stories too. One of the most notable was Hampshire's Beaulieu. It reaped the benefits of the 2012 fascination with 007 with a Bond in Motion exhibit showcasing 50 vehicles from 50 years of Bond movies. Even this enormous boost in attendance was outranked by the National Museum of Scotland which saw a 29 per cent rise in visitors enabling a Scottish attraction to take a spot in the top ten for the first time. It was also the number one free attraction outside the capital. Chester Zoo retained its spot as the most popular paid for destination outside London attracting almost a million and a half animal lovers.

Overall attractions in the UK saw a rise of just over five per cent, with indoor destinations being the best performers. A number of attractions saw major slumps in attendance and of these 90 per cent were outdoor sites. The general success of the industry was in part put down to the Olympics and the Diamond Jubilee which galvanised the British public as well as encouraged overseas visitors to the UK. It is hoped the success story will continue through 2013 with the ALVA highlighting upcoming new launches such as the unveiling of the £35million museum that will house the Mary Rose in Portsmouth's Historic Dockyard.

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