Parliament sets new benchmark for tourists

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Indy Politics

The houses of Parliament have achieved an unlikely summer success story in a gloomy year for the British tourist industry.

The houses of Parliament have achieved an unlikely summer success story in a gloomy year for the British tourist industry.

While the number of foreign visitors in London has slumped by about 14 per cent, ticket sales for tours of the Commons and Lords have doubled.

By the end of the summer recess some 80,000 people will have paid £3.50 each to follow the Queen's route on the State Opening of Parliament, walk around the two chambers and view Westminster Hall.

As well as British daytrippers, visitors include plenty of Americans, and enough French, German, Spanish and Italian holidaymakers to justify daily 75-minute guided tours in their native languages.

Bolstered by last year's experiment, which attracted 40,000 visitors, the authorities set up a ticket office in Westminster Hall, part of the original medieval palace. Yards away, visitors browse for souvenirs such as Lords whisky tumblers (£33.50) in a gift shop.

Kevin Reading, a Commons spokesman, said: "Numbers of visitors will probably double this year. We have already equalled last year's total."

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