CHESTER and it’s award winning attractions have put Cheshire on the map for having the most visited attractions in the North West.
Chester Zoo - recently named best zoo in the UK by TripAdvisor, was named as the 5th most visited zoo in the country with more than 1.4 million customers passing through its gates to see more than 11,000 animals last year.
According to a national tourist board VisitEngland survey, Cheshire significantly out-performied the rest of the region in 2013.
The survey also included a breakdown of the most visited paid attractions in North West England in 2013 with Cheshire taking seven of the places in the top 20.
In seventh place was Delamere Forest, near Chester, with more than 233,000 visitors.
Tatton Park, a Georgian estate near Knutsford – winner of the VisitEngland large attraction of the year award 2014 - also featured in the top 20 list of most visited attractions in England in 16th place with more than 848,000 people exploring the historic property in 2013 – an increase of nine per cent on the previous year.
Brendan Flanagan , visitor economy, culture and Tatton Park manager Cheshire East, said: “On the back of the award as best visitor attraction in England our continuing position in the `Top 20’ vindicates Cheshire East’s investment in further improving the visitor offer. There are so many things to do at Tatton and many reasons to visit this fantastic place.”
The most popular attraction in the North West region was Chester Zoo, which sees the opening of its blockbuster Islands attraction in 2015; followed by Tatton Park in third place.
Cheshire’s sky-high attraction, Beeston Castle operated by English Heritage came in at number 17 with almost 52,000 visitors making their way to the ancient fortress and exploring its woodland walks.
The list of the most visited free attractions in the North West 2013 included The Ice Cream Farm, Tattennhall, near Chester, with 510,000 visitors making their way to the countryside favourite up 27.5 per cent on the year before.
Meanwhile the biggest year-on-year change in footfall on the same list was recorded by the 1,000 year old Chester Cathedral, with visitor numbers rising from an estimated 55,000 in 2012 to 175,000 in 2013. The iconic building has recently launched a new Chester at Height visitor attraction offering spectacular views of the cityscape from one of its towers.
Vice Dean of Chester Cathedral, Canon Peter Howell-Jones, said: “We are delighted by the recently released figures and have worked exceptionally hard over the past year or so to drive footfall at the cathedral. It is our job to welcome people to our vibrant community of worship and show them hospitality. We hope that our free to enter initiative and our brand new visitor attraction, Cathedral at Height, will continue to encourage more and more people to visit us - local residents and tourists alike. We are also keen to support the economic growth of the city and want to stand shoulder to shoulder with other attractions and agencies in boosting tourism.”
Katrina Michel, chief executive at Marketing Cheshire, said: ‘We are delighted with the latest visitor figures for Cheshire attractions, which have performed exceedingly well in 2013 especially Quarry Bank Mill, The Ice Cream Farm and Chester Cathedral. They are an integral part of Cheshire’s tourism offer and help to drive the visitor economy.”