August ‘22 Visitor Numbers to ASVA Attractions Published 

The latest ASVA Visitor Attractions Barometer reports, for August 2022, is now available to view in the Members Area of our website

As has been noted in previous reports comparing 2022 figures to those of 2021 presents a number of challenges, as even as late as August ‘21, the sector was still being disrupted by covid and covid related regulations. It was only on the 9th of August that Scotland moved ‘Beyond Level 0’ in the Scottish Government’s Strategic Framework for Recovery, so restrictions on physical distancing were still in place for some of the month. Even beyond Level 0, some significant covid measures remained in place, such as compulsory face coverings for staff and the public and the requirement for test and protect information in hospitality settings. Consumer confidence was also still very fragile, and it is therefore no surprise that, when we compare August 2022 to August 2021, we see visitor numbers up this year by 63.6% for the month and 128.4% for the year to date across all ASVA member sites.

It is only when we analyse the 2022 figures against those of 2019, that we can fully understand where the industry was at the end of August ‘22 in comparison with a more ‘normal’ year. Comparing August ’22 to August ’19, across all ASVA attractions, visitor numbers were down 21.9% for the month and just under 26.8% for the year to date. These are the strongest visitor figures that have been reported collectively by ASVA members since the start of the pandemic, which is very welcome of course. However, the fact that numbers down by over 20% is something to be welcomed, tells us all we need to know about the very fragile state our industry is in just now.

Looking more closely at the different types of attraction, for the most part, outdoor venues still continued to outperform their indoor counterparts in terms of speed of recovery of visitor numbers. Outdoor/Nature attractions were only 1.3% down on 2019 levels, so effectively were operating with 2019 numbers in August. When compared to Castle & Forts (down 41.2% and Museums & Galleries (down 23%), it can be seen that the recovery of the sector is anything but consistent.

Given that the figures being reported now, take us through the main summer season, it is clear that 2022 has not been a year of ‘full recovery’ for our sector. It is, of course, encouraging that the picture has improved with visitor numbers gradually increasing over the course of the year. However, the improvement rate has been slow and is very inconsistent across different attraction types and locations. On top of this, continued and increasing challenges with the cost of doing business, with recruitment of staff and the cost-of-living crisis impacting consumer spending challenges all significantly impinge on our sector’s recovery.

Members can be assured that ASVA will continue to shine a spotlight on these challenging conditions and the need for both the Scottish and UK Governments to take action to support our industry through this winter and beyond.