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UK Tourism Statistics 2021


In recent months, foreign travel and tourism has been restricted, and UK residents have resorted to having staycations rather than vacations. This has led to changes in the popularity of certain tourism hotspots in the UK, both amongst the British population, and in the wider global picture. According to Statista, inbound visits to the UK decreased from around 41 million visitors in 2019 to just less than 10 million in 2020, highlighting the impact that the pandemic has had on tourism. 

What are the UKs Most Popular Tourist Attractions in 2021?

There is a large pool of tourist attractions in the UK, but for our research, we have just considered the 40 most popular locations according to Visit Britain's report: Annual Survey of Visits to Visitor Attractions. To discover the most popular attractions, we conducted keyword analysis with KWfinder to assess the number of searches for each of the tourism hotspots, separating the results by both searcher location and year. This allowed us to discover the most popular tourism attractions in the UK based on monthly search volume.

Which UK Tourist Attraction is the Most Popular According to UK Residents?

Draft 3 Tourism 1 Attractions UK

The graph above shows top 15 tourist attractions both in 2019 and 2020 amongst UK searchers: 

  • The most popular attraction in the past year was Stonehenge, and is one of the only attractions that actually increased in search volumes than the previous year.
  • The Tate Modern was the most searched attraction in 2019 and has now decreased drastically following the implications of Covid-19 (62% decrease).
  • In general, the number of searches for UK attractions by UK users has decreased significantly following the beginning of lockdowns in the UK.

Which UK Tourist Attraction is Most Popular Amongst Americans?

Draft 3 Tourism 2 Attractions USA

The graph above displays the top 15 tourist attractions both in 2019 and 2020 amongst American searchers:

  • Stonehenge is the only attraction to increase in popularity in 2020, and has remained the most searched for UK tourist attraction amongst the American population.
  • Searches for the Natural History Museum have declined to less than a third of their volume in 2019 (69% decline).
  • Other than the Roman Baths and the Canterbury Cathedral, the searches for all other UK attractions have also declined following the implications of Covid-19.

What is the Most Popular UK Tourist Attraction in the World?


The map above displays the top 15 tourist attractions both in 2019 and 2020 amongst global searchers:

  • Globally, Stonehenge remains the most popular tourist attraction in the UK and the number of searches has increased in 2020, with almost 1 million searches per month.
  • The Natural History Museum, Tate Modern, Science Museum and Chester Zoo have all decreased in search volumes by 56%, 59%, 54% and 58% respectively.
  • Following the implications of Covid-19, most UK tourist attractions’ popularity have decreased in terms of search volumes.

What are the Most Popular Areas for Tourism in the UK? 

This investigation was carried out using the tool Keyword Finder. We analysed the search term “Hotels x” with x being the county or the city in question. We analysed all 27 UK counties and the 20 most populated cities in the UK.

What is the Most Popular Tourist Hotspot in the UK Amongst UK Residents?

Draft 3 Tourism 4 Areas UK

The graph above displays the top 10 counties for tourism both in 2019 and 2020 amongst UK searchers, and shows:

  • Even though the search volumes for “Hotels London” decreased by 57% in 2020, it still remains the most searched for city in the UK.
  • Cornwall was the only destination in 2020 that increased in search volumes from 16570 monthly searches to 27200 monthly searches (64% increase).
  • Across all areas in the UK that we analysed, the number of searches by UK residents has decreased by more than 50% in 2020.

Which UK City is Most Popular Amongst American Tourists?

Draft 3 Tourism 4 Areas UK

In the graph above, the top 10 cities for tourism both in 2019 and 2020 amongst American searchers can be seen.

  • The popularity of London amongst American searchers has drastically decreased from 42083 searches in 2019 to 12000 searches in 2020 (71.5% decline)
  • London remains the most popular destination amongst Americans.
  • Online searches for Edinburgh have also decreased by 54%.
  • Searches for Nottingham have increased by 108%.
  • Newcastle, Derby, Leeds, Bradford, Sheffield and Coventry have all experienced a slight increase in search volume form the American population.

What is the Most Popular UK Tourist Hotspot in the World?

Draft 3 Tourism 5 Cities USA

In the above graph, the top 10 cities and counties for tourism in 2019 and 2020 can be seen based on global search volume.

  • On the global scale, popularity of all UK areas (except Cornwall) has decreased significantly in the past year.
  • London, Edinburgh and Manchester have all experienced the largest declines with 64%, 60% and 60% decline respectively.
  • On average the popularity of UK cities globally has decreased by 51%.
  • Cornwall was the only area that increased in popularity, increasing in search volumes from 18466 monthly searches to 31900 monthly searches (72% increase).
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