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Visitor attraction industry

The visitor attractions industry is difficult to define as activities overlap with other sectors. Visitor attractions include: fairground attractions (including theme parks); piers; historic railways; and other city attractions, such as Madame Tussaud’s and the London Eye.

By far the biggest player in the theme park and city attraction industry is Merlin. Merlin is currently the world’s number 2 visitor attraction operator, behind Disney, with 13,500 employees and around 35 million annual visits to its attractions. Merlin’s acquisitions of Legoland Parks in 2005, Gardaland in 2006 and Tussauds Group in 2007 have increased its scale tenfold in 3 years. Parks and attractions operated by Merlin include Alton Towers, London Dungeon, Sea Life, the London Eye, Thorpe Park and Madame Tussauds.

The industry also includes a number of independent theme parks and fairground attractions, many of which are found at seaside resorts and are family run.

Key facts:

  • There are 8,200 people working in visitor attractions in around 6,500 entreprises.
  • 62% of the workforce is employed full-time.
  • 55% of the workforce is female.
  • 96% of the workforce is white and 4% from Black Ethnic Minority groups
  • 22% of the workforce is aged 16-19 years, 29% 20-29 years, 12% 30-39 years, 9% 40-49 years and 25% is 50 years and older.
  • 18% of the workforce has a NVQ Level 4 qualification.
  • The majority of the workforce has a NVQ Level 2 qualification (32%).
  • The majority (42%) of the workforce in the visitor attraction industry work in elementary occupations. Approximately 18% are managers and senior officials’ and15% work in personal service occupations.

Source: People 1st LMI Report (March 2010) and Visitor attractions industry profile 2009