June ‘22 visitor numbers to ASVA attractions published

The latest ASVA Visitor Attractions Barometer reports, for June 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 June 21, the sector was still being heavily disrupted by covid regulations. By 5th June ‘21, all of Scotland was either in Level 1 or Level 2, so definite progress had been made, but even at Level 1, restrictions still included limits on the number of people who could mingle from different groups, and of course, physical distancing was still very much in effect.  As a result, the restrictions still considerably impacted on visitor numbers across virtually all attraction types on Scotland for the entirely of the month of June in 2021. It is therefore no surprise at all that, when we compare June 2022 to June 2021, we see visitor numbers up 103% for the month and 202% for the year to date.

It is only when we analyse the 2022 figures against those of 2019, that we can fully understand where the industry is at just now in terms of recovery from the pandemic and a return to ‘normality’. Comparing June ’22 to June ’19, across all ASVA attractions, visitor numbers were down just under 24% for the month and 30% for the year to date. The picture across different locations and attraction types remains somewhat mixed, but it can be ascertained that June was comparatively a better month than experienced by the sector in May.  This may partly be due to more sunny weather leading to more visitors travelling to experience primarily outdoor attractions, and a reduction in the number of covid cases, after a swift upturn in May.

Certainly Outdoor/Nature attractions enjoyed very healthy visitation levels, with attractions in this category reporting numbers are up over 27% on 2019. Other parts of the sector are nowhere near at this level, so this category is an outlier, with other ‘major’ categories such as Museums & Galleries, Distilleries & Breweries and Castles/Forts, reporting numbers that are down by 20%+. 

What is becoming increasingly clear is that we are not going to be in a position to talk about the sector experiencing a ‘full recovery’ in 2022.  Though visitor numbers are gradually improving, the improvement rate is very incremental and indeed very patchy. On top of this recruitment challenges and the rapidly developing cost of living crisis is impacting and will continue to impact on our sector’s recovery for the rest of the year (and likely beyond).  In our ongoing dialogue with the Scottish Government and STERG, ASVA will continue to shine a spotlight on these challenging conditions and the need for action to support our industry, which is so important both economically and culturally to Scotland.