Just released, figures which reveal London's most visited tourist attractions. And what do you know - the Tate Modern is the most popular attraction in the capital with nearly 5 million visitors last year (that's an impressive 13600 visitors a day or, if you like, 26 visitors a minute). According to the official list, a total of 14 attractions welcomed more than a million visitors in 2006 (up from 13 the year before). And right down at the bottom of the pile was the Theatre Museum, whose visitor numbers were so feeble that the place was forced to close down last month. Great headline-grabbing stuff, this rank-ordering.
But hang on a second, there must be more than 23 visitor attractions in London, surely? Where's Buckingham Palace? Where's Madame Tussauds? Where's the London Eye? It turns out that the above list is restricted only to attractions with current membership of ALVA - the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions. If you didn't take part in the organisation's latest survey then you're not on the list. It's not exactly definitive is it? I'm perfectly willing to believe that Tate Modern is the genuine number 1, but I have very little faith that Tate Britain is really number 10.
Still, at least the visitor numbers are fascinating. It's striking how much more popular the National History Museum is than its scientific neighbour. It's instructive that the Tower of London is the only attraction in the top half of the list which charges for admission. It's mysterious how the Houses of Parliament seem to have so many visitors when they're only open to the public during the summer recess. And blimey, more people visited my blog last year than visited HMS Belfast - surely that can't be right?
The full ALVA list also contains attractions outside London, which means that even the Tate Modern is eclipsed by the success of Blackpool Pleasure Beach - Britain's most-visited in 2006, with 5.7 million dropping in. All the rest of our top attractions are still in the capital, however, right down until Edinburgh Castle appears as the UK's number 14. Meanwhile, at the very bottom of the full UK list, a rather more folorn picture is painted: