Rail problems, fears of terrorism, and the high cost of getting to and eating in London have contributed to a “flatlining” of tourism in the capital last year.
The British Museum, Natural History Museum, Tate Modern and National Gallery welcomed a total of almost two million fewer people in 2017 compared with the previous year.
The British Museum maintained its position as the most popular tourist attraction despite suffering an 8% drop in visitors to 5.9 million, ahead of Tate Modern (down 3% to 5.7 million) and the National Gallery (down 16.5% to 5.2 million). Blockbuster exhibitions such as one on Pink Floyd were heralded for the V&A increasing its visitor numbers by 26% to 3.8 million.
Attractions across London as a whole saw an increase of just 1.2%, whereas the UK average growth across 238 sites was 7.3%, including 13.9% in Scotland.
Bernard Donoghue, director of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (Alva), which published the figures, said trips to London have become too expensive for many people. He also blamed the decline in visits to some sites on rail disruption, such as during work to modernise the UK's busiest train station London Waterloo.
Almost one in five trains (19%) run by GTR - which owns four south-east England franchises including Southern Railway - failed to arrive at their destination within five minutes of the schedule in the 12 months to March 3, Network Rail figures show.
For the first time in four years, the UK's most visited attractions outside London were in Scotland. The National Museum of Scotland was 11th overall with 2.2 million visitors (up 20%), with Edinburgh Castle in 12th with 2.1 million (up 16%).