Houses of Parliament fail to attract tourists

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Indy Politics

The Palace of Westminster may be one of the most famous sights on the London tourist trail, but attempts to open its doors to the public proved a financial disaster, says a report by MPs.

The Palace of Westminster may be one of the most famous sights on the London tourist trail, but attempts to open its doors to the public proved a financial disaster, says a report by MPs.

The seven-week experiment last summer lost more than £200,000 after visitor numbers and income from souvenirs failed to meet even the most gloomy targets.

MPs have recommended a second trial opening this summer, despite finding that only 40,580 visitors took up the £3.50 guided tour around both Houses of Parliament, about 10,000 fewer than the most pessimistic estimate.

The Commons Administration Committee also said tourists were not inspired to spend money by the gothic surroundings. Income from souvenirs and other merchandise only came to £139,000, a fraction of the "pessimistic case target" of £478,400.

The committee had already warned of a possible "worse-case scenario" deficit of £232,000. In fact, the deficit was £209,611, of which the Commons' "share" was £125,767.

But MPs reported that the visitors were generally very satisfied with the tour, with 95 per cent of people rating it as very good.

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