Prices `too high at tourist sites'

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The Independent Online
BRITAIN'S TOP 20 tourist attractions have been warned that unless they reduce admission prices visitors will stop coming.

The authors of The Good Guide to Britain, which lists the top attractions around the country, said steep admission rises and the strong pound will affect both British and foreign visitors - with some holiday attractions now carrying the equivalent of a 25 per cent price increase.

The editor of the guide, Alistair Aird, said: "Britain's tourist industry has an uncanny knack of shooting itself in the foot. Of the 20 most visited places which charge admission none has cut their price this year. Only two, Canterbury Cathedral and London's Natural History Museum, have even held their prices steady. These increases average 9.5 per cent, against an increase in retail prices of only 3 per cent. Such steep increases are uncomfortable for all of us. But for foreign visitors, coupled with the pound's strength, they mean that British holiday attractions now carry the equivalent of a 25 per cent price increase."

The biggest price rise came at Blackpool Tower which pushed up admission by 19 per cent, followed by Granada Studio Tours at 15.4 per cent, St Paul's Cathedral (14.3 per cent) and Thorpe Park (11.9 per cent).

The guide's award for best new attraction went to the Blue Planet aquarium at Ellesmere Port, Cheshire; scariest ride was Oblivion at Alton Towers, - "160 seconds of heart-stopping terror"; and zoo of the year was Chester - Britain's biggest.