THE Historic Dockyard in Portsmouth has been crowned the best tourist attraction in the UK in a prestigious poll.
It triumphed at the Group Leisure Awards after being voted Best UK Attraction by readers of the travel title.
And it saw off competition from four other finalists, including Bletchley Park, The Shard, Harry Potter studios and Warwick Castle
John Rawlinson, director of visitor experience at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, said: ‘Group Leisure Magazine is one of the leading magazines in the industry.
‘Its readers have voted for us which is a brilliant stamp of approval.
‘We welcome almost 100,000 visitors in groups of more than 15 every year.’
This is great news and a fantastic endorsement of the attractions we have in PortsmouthCouncillor Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council
The site features some of the greatest naval ships in Britain’s history, including Admiral Lord Nelson’s flagship HMS Victory.
Andrew Baines, of HMS Victory, said: ‘Portsmouth Historic Dockyard has many jewels in the crown.
‘Groups value the opportunity to board HMS Victory, possibly the most famous warship and experience what life would have been like when Nelson led the fleet to victory at Trafalgar.’
It is also home to the Mary Rose Museum, which has inside Henry VIII’s flagship that was raised from the Solent.
Helen Bonser-Wilton, chief executive at The Mary Rose Trust, said: ‘We are delighted the dockyard has been awarded the large visitor attraction of the year and are pleased to share in this success.
‘The personal interaction with staff and volunteers is seen as a highlight with our visitors as is the fact that the Mary Rose Museum is accessible for all.’
Tourists can also go on board HMS Warrior, and like Victory, the ship can be hired as a venue for weddings and parties.
Commander Tim Ash, chief executive and captain of HMS Warrior, said: ‘Trustees, staff and volunteers are delighted by this latest recognition.
‘At HMS Warrior, we constantly strive to maintain the highest standards, and the “wow” factor for our visitors and venue hire clients.
‘We pride ourself on delivering an unforgettable experience that encapsulates the history of this great ship, offering hands-on activities, learning workshops and access to guides with specialist knowledge to help bring her story alive and spark visitors imagination.’
Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council, said she was ‘overjoyed’ at the news.
She said: ‘This is great news and a fantastic endorsement of the attractions we have in Portsmouth.
‘It’s a beautiful part of the county, and with an advertising campaign across the capital such as those being run by South West Trains promoting the city, I am not surprised the dockyard has been voted the top attraction in the UK.
‘I’m very proud of the achievement and it helps to support the 13,000 people that work in a tourist-related business in the city and contributed more than £6m in to the local economy. It’s great news and I’m overjoyed.’