Visitor numbers at Brighton's historic Royal Pavilion were up by more than 30,000 to 313,360 last year (2010-11), thanks to new exhibitions and more people holidaying at home.
Use of social media such as Twitter and Facebook to promote the Royal Pavilion to a wider audience; improvements to the group bookings system; and a winter ice rink which helped to raise the attraction's profile, also contributed to the 10% rise and the highest visitor numbers for a decade. Publicity generated by the new Brighton Rock film - which features the Royal Pavilion - is also expected to benefit visitor numbers this year.
Brighton & Hove City Council owns and runs the Royal Pavilion, along with Preston Manor, Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, Hove Museum & Art Gallery, and the Booth Museum of Natural History. Combined attendances for these cultural attractions were up from a total of 594,881 in 2009-10 to 621,969.
Popular displays boosting attendances at the Royal Pavilion are a new permanent gallery charting its remarkable role as an Indian Military Hospital during World War One; and the current exhibition, Dress for Excess - Fashion in Regency England, which celebrates the life of George IV, who created the Pavilion as his seaside residence, through the clothes of the period. Dark Day in Paradise, an art installation which ran until January, was also a popular draw.
The increase in visitor numbers was almost entirely due to an increase in visits by UK residents. Brits visiting the Pavilion rose by 30,000 as more people chose a 'staycation', because of concerns about the recession, exchange rates and airport disruption. More Brighton & Hove residents also took the opportunity to visit the royal palace on their doorstep, with visits up by 8% to 11,800*.
Other visitors were drawn from across the world, with the highest proportion from Germany and France followed by, Italy, USA and Canada. The Royal Pavilion's popularity with German and French visitors follows a high profile Brighton & Hove marketing campaign in northern Europe by VisitBrighton, the council's tourism service.
Hove Museum & Art Gallery also saw a big increase in visitors, up from 40,056 to 44,542, thanks in part to the success of family activities and events at the museum, where one of the highlights is the Wizard's Attic toy collection.
David Murray, Brighton & Hove City Council's Strategic Director Communities, said: "The Royal Pavilion really is the jewel in the city's crown and we are delighted more and more people are taking time out to visit this unique building.
"Along with visitors from across the world, we have been pleased to welcome more Brighton & Hove residents, either making their first visit to the Royal Pavilion, or returning to take in new exhibitions which provide an extra insight into its colourful past."
He added: "The Pavilion and the city's museums provide a rich mix of culture and heritage for local residents and visitors and the early signs are that visitor numbers will remain strong this year."
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