Theme park heads table of fee-charging tourist sites: Alton Towers overtakes Madam Tussaud's with 2.5 million visitors as historic attractions trail behind

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The Independent Online
CULTURE takes second place to entertainment in the list of Britain's leading tourist attractions, writes Martin Whitfield.

Alton Towers, the Staffordshire theme park, dethroned Madam Tussaud's from its premier position last year by attracting more than 2.5 million visitors, according to a table published yesterday by the British Tourist Authority.

The more 'worthy' attractions of the Tower of London, the Natural History Museum and St Paul's Cathedral, followed behind.

Madam Tussaud's had been at the top of admission-charging sites since the BTA began compiling its list in 1984 but a only a small rise in vistors to 2.26 million could not keep pace with the 27 per cent increase at Alton Towers.

Michael Jolly, chief operating officer of the Tussaud's Group, was unconcerned by the change. His company also owns Alton Towers and Chessington World of Adventure, eighth on the BTA list. The company is part of the Pearson Group, publishers of the Financial Times and Penguin Books.

Blackpool Pleasure Beach topped the list of attractions with free admission, having had 6.5 million visits last year. The British Museum came second with 6.3 million.

(Photograph omitted)