<strong><u>November ’22 visitor numbers to ASVA attractions available to view now</u></strong>

The latest ASVA Visitor Attractions Barometer reports, for November 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 some challenges, primarily due to the levels of covid disruption that were still being experienced through much of 2021. Whilst Scotland was ‘Beyond Level 0’ in November, under the Scottish Government’s Strategic Framework for Recovery, a number of covid measures, such as compulsory face coverings and the requirement for test and protect information in hospitality settings, remained in place. Consumer confidence in visiting attractions was also very fragile at this corresponding period in 2021, so visitor numbers to certain types of visitor attractions, particularly indoor sites with enclosed spaces, were considerably lower than they would be in a ‘normal’ year. This helps to explain why, when we compare visitor numbers across ASVA member sites in November 2023, with those of November 2021, the figures for this year are considerably up.  Visitor numbers were up by almost 40% for the month and over 93% for the year to date, January to November.

Comparisons beyond 2021 data is therefore needed if we are to better understand how the season has been for Scottish attractions in 2022. By comparing November 2022 to November 2019 – a year without restrictions or crises – we get a clearer picture on how the sector has actually fared.

Looking at November ’22 vs November ’19, visitor numbers across all ASVA attractions were down just over 11% for the month and 24% for the year to date. Whilst these are strongest visitor figures that have been reported collectively by ASVA members since the start of the pandemic, the sector as a whole is still down on numbers by almost a quarter of what would be regarded as a ‘non-crisis’ year.  

Looking more closely at the different types of attractions, for the most part, even with colder weather conditions, outdoor venues still continued to outperform their indoor counterparts in terms of speed of recovery of visitor numbers. Outdoor/Nature attractions were actually up considerably, by 25%, on the corresponding month in 2019, and for the year to date, numbers for this sector are up by 5% on where they were in 2019. When compared to the likes of Castle & Forts (down 42% for the year to date), Other Historic Properties (down 29% year to date) and Museums & Galleries (down 29% year to date), it can be seen that much of the sector has a long way to go to get back to pre-pandemic levels of visitation.

On top of this, increases in the cost of doing business, issues with recruitment & retention of staff and, of course, the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on the consumer are undoubtedly now causing challenges which will inhibit the sector’s recovery as we move into 2023, particularly for those attractions who largely rely on local and domestic visitors.

ASVA continues to shine a spotlight on the conditions many of our members are facing to both the Scottish and UK Governments, including the very pressing challenges being faced that those venues where energy contracts are ending and they are facing financially crippling new bills. We also continue to highlight the importance of our sector to tourism in Scotland and to our country’s economy and cultural standing, to ensure that those in the corridors of power fully understand the very real need to continue to support our sector through challenging times.