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A range of Leicester and Leicestershire visitor attractions, including Leicester Cathedral and Twycross Zoo, have been named in a list of the most visited places in the UK last year.

Leicester Museum and Art Gallery was ranked in second place on the survey’s list of the top 20 most visited free attractions in the East Midlands, according to VisitEngland – the national tourism agency.

A total of six attractions in Leicester and Leicestershire were featured including Leicester Cathedral, Leicester Guildhall, Abbey Pumping Station and Melton Carnegie Museum.

Twycross Zoo also emerged in second place on the list of the top 20 most visited paid attractions in the East Midlands along with the National Space Centre and the Great Central Railway.

Picture: Great Central Railway

Other local attractions to appear in the survey include: King Richard III Visitor Centre, Ashby de la Zouch Castle, Belgrave Hall, Stanford Hall, Harborough Museum, and Hinckley and District Museum.

The survey, which is conducted annually amongst visitor attractions in England, records visitor numbers alongside other key information such as entrance fees and visitor profiles.

Attractions in England reported a 30 per cent increase in total visits from 2020 to 2021, as they began to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, but this still remains at less than half of the admissions volume seen in 2019. This increase was driven by the domestic market. Local or day trip visit volumes saw an increase of 26 per cent and an increase in staycations also benefited some regions.

On the list of the region’s top 20 most visited paid attractions, Great Central Railway saw an 80 per cent increase in visitor numbers between 2020 and 2021, while on the list of the region’s top 20 most visited free attractions, Abbey Pumping Station recorded a 128 per cent rise in visitors during the same timeframe.

Visit England Director Andrew Stokes said: “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.”

Mike Denby, Director of Inward Investment and Place Marketing at Leicester City Council commented: “We are delighted to see some of our most recognisable attractions featured in VisitEngland’s annual attractions survey for 2021. It’s been a difficult time for the local and national visitor economies so it’s interesting to see how and the rate at which the industry is recovering. It is also encouraging to note that the East Midlands offers the best value attractions in England so it’s a good time to visit Leicester and Leicestershire where there’s so much to see and do.”

The full results of the survey can be found at