Portsmouth sites play a key role in boosting UK tourism figures

Professor Dominic Tweddle, head of the NMRN, outside HMS Victory at the historic dockyard, in Portsmouth.'' Picture : Habibur Rahman PPP-180901-151328001
Professor Dominic Tweddle, head of the NMRN, outside HMS Victory at the historic dockyard, in Portsmouth.'' Picture : Habibur Rahman PPP-180901-151328001
Contestants line-up at the Elm Grove, Hayling Island, Co-Op for The News-Co-Op trolley dash. From left, S Slade, of Portsmouth, M O'Connor, of Southsea, G Perryman, of Clanfield, V Gibson of Titchfield, E Jackson, of Portchester, and J Jones, of Hayling Island

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HERITAGE sites across Portsmouth have helped in bumping up the overall number of visitors to key attractions across the UK, a leading tourism body has today revealed.

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN), which owns and operates the site, helped to boast UK visitor figures by 7.3 per cent, the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions has said.

The NMRN, which counts HMS Victory and HMS Warrior as part of its world famous fleet, gets special mention for its 17 per cent increase across the country at its member museums in Portsmouth, Belfast, Somerset and Hartlepool.

The heritage organisation joins tourism powerhouses Chester Zoo and Bath’s Roman Baths in the top five most-visited English sites outside of London.

Professor Dominic Tweddle, director general of the NMRN welcomed the figures – which were released on the eve of English Tourism Week.

He said: ‘This is a great way to end our year and gives us further proof that what we are doing with investing in our heritage product and marketing it widely is working.’

The news comes as Portsmouth reached a record-breaking high, with 900,000 visitors flocking to the Historic Dockyard in the past year.

As reported by The News, a study by business boffins at the University of Portsmouth revealed the maritime attraction contributed £110m per year into the economy.

And with a the surge in visitor numbers, the NMRN has pledged to bump up investment in Portsmouth, pumping in £33m over the next two years to fund the opening of the Royal Marines Museum, in 2020, and the final resting place of D-Day landing craft LCT 7074 at Southsea’s D-Day Story – the new name for the former D-Day Museum.

The announcement coincides with the National Museum submitting its second round bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund to secure £13.75m towards the cost of a brand new Royal Marines Museum in the historic dockyard and Storyhouse 12: The Navy Unlocked, housing the country’s newest national collection of two million items. A final decision is expected mid-summer.