Mary Rose aims to rival Stonehenge and Tower of London in tourism stakes

WORLD-CLASS ambitions are at the forefront of a new £500,000 marketing bid by the Mary Rose Museum as it is seeking to set itself on par with the likes of Stonehenge and The Tower of London.

Heritage bosses are today launching the effort, which they say will help to transform Portsmouth into a major international tourism hotspot.

Helen Bonser-Wilton, Chief Executive of the Mary Rose Trust, launches the trusts new branding strategy at the site of the Mary Rose in Portsmouth 'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (180218-1)

Stonehenge is consistently the UK’s number 1 tourist destination with the Tower of London second and the Roman Baths in Bath third. Stonehenge drew 1.3m visitors in 2016, the Tower of London 2.7m and the Roman baths, 1.1m.

Leaders behind the Mary Rose Museum hope to entice 250,000 extra overseas visitors into the city, as well as hundreds of thousands more from across the UK.

It’s all part of a five-year plan which will look to make the dockyard attraction one of Britain’s premier heritage destinations and a must-see site for international visitors.

Helen Bonser-Wilton, chief executive of the Mary Rose Trust, is leading the plan, which is seeking to re-market the museum as the best place in the globe to find out about what life was like in Tudor times.

Helen Bonser-Wilton, Chief Executive of the Mary Rose Trust, at the Mary Rose Museum

Speaking exclusively to The News, she said: ‘We want to be a must-experience British icon.

‘If somebody goes to this country, they’ll want to go to Stonehenge, the Tower of London, the Roman baths and now, the Mary Rose Museum.

‘We see ourselves absolutely on a parallel with those very iconic locations. We are like Britain’s Pompeii. There is literally nothing like this in the whole world.’

The campaign will see major posters rolling out across the city, as well as further afield.

The historic wreck of the Mary Rose

On top of this, there will be a TV advertising effort and national radio blitz.

The news comes after the attraction, in the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, was shortlisted in the running for the best museum in Europe at an international awards do.

Councillor Linda Symes, cabinet member for leisure, culture and sport at the city council, said the announcement was great news for the city.

She added it would help solidify future bids for Portsmouth to become the UK City of Culture – an attempt the city narrowly missed out on for 2021.

‘This will strengthen our hand for a future city of culture bid,’ she said. ‘We may not have been successful last time but we were told to resubmit our bid, so that is promising.

Speaking of the dockyard heritage site, Cllr Symes added: ‘The museum is fabulous. The trust has worked wonders there since it opened.’

New attractions are set to be revealed inside the museum, which will include a preserved stem timber from the ship that will be featured for the first time.

Mrs Bonser-Wilton added: ‘Mary Rose is a world-class destination and to have a world-class destination in a city like Portsmouth can only be good for the visitor economy.

‘It’s going to draw people who know it is the only place in the world where you can see these Tudor treasures.’

The museum tends to about 19,000 artefacts recovered from the wreck of Henry VIII’s doomed flagship The Mary Rose, which sank in the Solent in 1545.

Since 2013 it has seen more than 1.8m visitors pass through its doors, last year topping more than 365,000 people.

Mrs Bonser-Wilton has ambitions for this figure to rise to at least 500,000 in the next five years.

Speaking of the Tudor treasures inside the site, which recently underwent a major makeover, Mrs Bonser-Wilton said: ‘The Tudors are the ultimate story of sex, violence and rock and roll.

‘We know that people love Henry VIII and hearing stories of Tudor life and there is nowhere else in the world that you can hear stories like this – they’re stories of the ordinary person, not just kings and queens.’

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