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Last Updated:  Sunday, 2 March, 2003, 04:16 GMT
Free museums pull in 'well off'
The British Museum
Visitor numbers dropped at the British Museum
Free admission to major museums is generally failing to attract more visitors from lower-income groups, according to the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions.

It says the end of charges has brought many more people through museum doors, but most are from middle and upper socio-economic groups.

Its figures show the Natural History Museum in London attracted 72% more visitors last year compared with 2001, the Science Museum had 101.4% more visitors and the Victoria & Albert Museum had 111% more.

However, numbers visiting the British Museum fell 4.14% last year.

The association's director, Robin Broke, said: "Although it's good to see such increases in visitor numbers, it's disappointing not to see a good social mix.

Shorter visits

"One has to look behind the figures a little. People are making shorter visits and the extra numbers mean there is more wear and tear on the attraction."

Top attraction in the association's list was Blackpool Pleasure Beach which had 6.4 million visitors last year, 6% more than in 2001.

A number of attractions hit by the foot-and-mouth outbreak of 2001 bounced back last year, with Chester Zoo recording 22% more visitors and Whipsnade Wild Animal Park in Bedfordshire welcoming 30.4% more people.

The association's list includes its members, but is not definitive.

For example, there are no figures from such attractions as Alton Towers and Madame Tussauds.

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11 Dec 02 |  Entertainment
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07 Jan 02 |  Entertainment
Museums 'no longer special treats'
01 Dec 01 |  Entertainment

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