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Role Of Natural History Museum In London Tourism Tourism Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Tourism
Wordcount: 3312 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Organization defines tourists as people who “travel to and stay in places outside their usual

Environment for more than twenty-four (24) hours and not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes not related to the exercise of an activity remunerated from within the place visited”.

According to international passenger survey (IPS) 2009, more than 14 million overseas visitors visited London, Over 50% of London visitors were EU nationals, dominated by arrivals from France Germany, Spain and Italy. A further 14% arrived from the rest of Europe. According IPS itself they spend around 8,315 billion pound in year 2009.As the data shows people visited London for different reason among which 50 percent visitor visited for holiday purpose , 23 percent visited for visiting friends and relatives,18 percent visited for business, 1 percent visited as a student and rest 8 percent visited for other reason.( For statistics see appendix 1)

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Urban tourism:

http://www.stayfitbug.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/london-nightlife.jpg A night view of central London.

Urban tourism has, in one form or other, been with us since Mesopotamia and Sumeria were spawning the phenomenon of urbanization. People with the means and inclination to do so have been drawn to towns and cities just to visit and experience a multiplicity of things to see and do…These (towns and cities) were the melting pots of national culture, art, music, literature and of course magnificent architecture and urban design. It was the concentration, variety, and quality of these activities and attributes … that created their attraction and put certain towns and cities on the tourism map… (Karski 1990, p. 15).

Today tourism consumes substantial amounts of space within urban destinations: tourist-historic urban cores, special museums of many kinds, urban waterfronts, theme parks and specialized precincts all contribute to this consumption (Gospodini 2001) . Today major urban areas perform important functions ,all the modern technologies and development takes place in urban areas. They are the key gateways for both international and domestic tourists. As a whole we can say that every tourists first destination will take place in urban areas no matter which country it is in entire Globe.

Museums and tourisms in uk

As we all know that the tourism plays a vital role in UK economy as it is recognized as 5 th largest industry in the UK and UK Museums are the key players in attracting the inbound and outbound visitors . According to ” National Museum Directors conference April 2009″ Museums’ success in attracting visitors: eight of the top ten UK visitor attractions in 2008 were museums and galleries and three UK Museums were in the top ten most visited International Museums in 2008.

Museums are major beneficiaries of income from visitors, who contribute directly to the tourism

economy. Studies calculate that in 2006 overseas visitors to major UK museums and galleries

spent £350 million as a result of their visit4 and UK visitors, who spend considerably less per visit,

were estimated to have spent £245 million in 2004.5 Visitor surveys show that the vast majority of

visitors have a positive experience in major museums.(national museum directors conference April 2009)

Contribution of museums to urban tourism

As we discuss above in museums and tourism, we are clear that museums contribute a huge chunk of benefit in tourism industry .Most of the city have museums and it plays a vital role in urban tourism. Once it (the museums) was a place that had instruction and the propagation of a particular view of the world as its underpinning. Now it (to museums) has come to be seen as an urban landmark- a replacement for the missing agora, a place devoted to spectacle (Sudjic 1993:143)

In 2008-2009 the national museums received well over 40 million visitors, this figures defines clearly that museums contribute a huge impact in tourism industry.



Front view of natural history museum, south Kensington, London

There are over 240 Museums in London among them; the Natural History Museum is one of the largest Museums on exhibition road, South Kensington, London ,which was created from the private collection of British physician and naturalist Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753). The museum is an exempt charity, and a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. It has been voted as the seven wonder of London by time out magazine. The museum is home to earth and science specimens having some 70 million items within 5 main collections:


In this department they have collection of approximately one third of a million specimens and consists of four main elements: minerals, including gems, (about 180,000 specimens),rocks, including building stones and ocean bottom deposits, (about 160,000 specimens), meteorites (about 3,000 specimens) and ores (about 30,000 specimens).


In this department they have collection of an estimated 6 million specimens including seed plants, spores and pollens, lycophytes and ferns, bryophytes, algae, diatoms, lichens and slime moulds and is one of the most comprehensive collections in the world.


In this department they have collection of some 28 million specimen’s house at south Kensington, tring and wandsworth. They include remarkable diversity of material from whales to protists, prepares at wet or dry preserved specimens, mounted on slides or frozen tissue samples.


In this department they have the collection of estimated 28 million prepared specimens including insects and other terrestrial and fresh water arthropods including spiders, mites and myriapods.


In this department they have the collection of approximately 9 million specimens including microfossils, macro-invertabates, plants and vertabates.


The main purpose of this study is to evaluate the role of Natural History Museum in London tourism.


To describe and analyse the visitors profile at the museum, changes in the profile in recent years, how many are international tourists (a specific category of visitor, different from e.g. school groups, local people, domestic tourists).

To understand and analyse ,What do the museum visitors think about the building ,services and products of museum and the area as a London tourist attraction.

To understand the feelings of local residents about their local museum and impact of museum tourist on their daily life .

Literature review

Museums are institutions based on objects. This is what makes them different from other social and cultural institutions. As it is stated;

Museums are pump primers, their presence can be compared to the opening of a subway station, or even an airport: an investment which has the effect of raising property values. They have the ability to raise the profile of a development, bringing life into an area. (Sudjic 1993:141)

The establishment of the British museums in 1753 And the transformation of the Louvre into a museum in the beginning of the nineteenth century marked a new era in urban tourism culture development in which museums of art, archaelogy and natural science began to appear in most major cities in Europe and North America( Thomkins 1973; feldstein 1990).

This is the data drawn by the help of data provided by Natural History Museum to show the no of visitors and their type of five years from year 2004-2005 to 2008-2009.

Performance indicator 09-10 08-09 07-08 06-07 05-06

Outturn Outturn Outturn Outturn Outturn


Number of total visitors 4,388,944 3,843,310 3,779,420 3,892,878 3,281,810

Number of child visitors 1164390 1,131,054 1,251,131 1,325,946 1,049,808

Number of over 60s visitors 307,226 269,032 249,139 290,977 223,643 Number of visitors from lower 429,569 333,832 289,978 299,622 422,482

Socio-economic groups (NS-SEC

Groups5-8) aged 16 and over

According to the annual report


Research is a systematic and objective process to interpret facts, increase knowledge of the subjects and draw conclusions based on those learning processes (Saunders et al. 2007). There are various approaches to conduct the research, yet, it is vital to identify appropriate epistemological and methodological bases that allow the collection of sufficient information, and ultimately to answer questions raised by the researcher (Gratton & Jones 2003).

In order to achieve the first objectives the author will use secondary data to describe and analyse the visitors profiles at the museum, in this objective he will try to find out particularly who are the visitors like, their origin, their age groups, education and relevant information.

The second objective, which is to identify what do the Natural History Museum visitors think about the building, services and products of museum and the south Kensington area as a London tourist attraction? To meet this objective the author will carry out a survey of 20 people outside the museum gate ,asking the visitors who visited the museum recently.

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In order to meet third and last objective, that is; To understand the feelings of local residents about their local museum and impact of museum tourist on their daily life .Qualitative data will be pivotal, So the Author will carry out the face to face interview of around 20 local residents of South Kensington near to the Natural History Museum in order to get their opinion about the Museum.

Hence the overall aim, the role of Natural History Museum to London tourism will be achieved through the collection of both primary and secondary data using both qualitative and quantitative data research method.

Field work:

To find out the second objective, which is to identify what do the Natural History Museum visitors think about the building, services and products of museum and the south Kensington area as a London tourist attraction? The author had carried out the survey of 20 visitors at the time of field visit.(for questionnaire and data collection refer to appendix)

According to the data collection on survey out of 20 people, there were 55% male and 45% female of which 25 % were married and rest 20 % of them were single. The table also shows that the majority of the volunteer to the survey belonged to the 17- 30(50%) and 31-59(30%) age group, though there were a good representative of individuals(20%) between the age group of over 60 years old.

Majority of volunteer represent the managerial professional occupations (55%), followed by entrepreneur representing 25 %, followed by 15% belonging to skilled job holder and rest of them were in semi skilled job (5%). The table also explain that the majority of the volunteer were holding diploma or degree representing 50% in a whole, followed by master degree holder (25%) and GCSE/A level 20 %, and the rest 5 % were holding a PhD.

If we move further then the table explains that there were a huge no of inbound tourist representing 40 % of total tourist which were from different parts of united kingdom, followed by European union country representing 35 %, then after the Asian country (15%) majority form china and India as it is not shown in data, rest of them (10%) were from western country.

As a part of survey the author carried out a survey mainly asking 10 important questions , as the table or data explains that the majority of the volunteer were excited and satisfied with the services and facilities after visiting the museum and they were telling that the museum building were amazing and excellent. As the figure shows that the majorly of the people were excited with the environment of the south Kensington, as it is a part of central London and they were telling that its modern and well facilitated in terms of transportation, cleanness, different restaurants and pubs, and also another two major museum that is Victoria and Albert museum and science museum and they seem very happy with the local people and their hospitality.

As we can see that the majority of the volunteer (50%) likes the blue zone or department which has the amazing dinosaur collection, marine invertebrates etc, followed by red zone(25%) or department which has the collection of vision of earth, earth today and tomorrow, earth lab etc, and then green zone where you can see the best minerals collection, fossil marine reptiles, primates etc, and lastly orange zone where you can Explore the Wildlife Garden and see behind the scenes of the Darwin Centre.

According to data the volunteer looks very positive and satisfied about museum and the London as a great tourist destination , and the majority of them were willing to come back again as they were suggesting that the administration should work out a bit more to make it more well organised and modern.

To find out the third objective that is evaluating the opinion of local residents about their local museum (specially Natural History Museum) , the author had carried out the face to face interview of 20 people. ( for the sample questions and data please see appendix 3)

According to the data collected on 6 th of august 2010 ,there were 45 percent of male volunteering followed by 55 percent female of which 30 percent were married and rest 25 percent were unmarried belonging to different age groups ,majority of them were in between 17 to 59. There were mixture of educated people holding mixture of education qualification working in different category of jobs of which 15 % of volunteer were working as the semi skilled jobs.

Referring to the interview results, majority of volunteer were very excited and happy of the existence of their local museum ,though there were some mixed negative reaction about the museum , especially people were complaining about the overcrowding problem as I asked about the first question that was what do you think about your local Museum. As I moved to second question which was what are the benefit of your local museum in your life ,there were a mixture of positive answers ,majority of volunteer were telling me that they can see different people from different parts of the world ,they can interact with them, because of museum that particular area is very much developed and secured ,out of 20 some were shop keeper who told me that they were very much benefited form the shop because of the tourist who comes to visit the museum, some were telling me that because of museum visitor there are dozens of bars , restaurants , shops which created thousands of jobs . As I asked them third question which was what is the negative impact you local museum ? majority of volunteer were answering me that because of the museum their place is overcrowded ,polluted (sound ,air etc)and urbanised(lose their ethnicity ) .some of them were sharing me that they cannot get sit to sit on the bus neither in train because of huge no of tourist. As i moved further to fourth question which was are you happy with the tourist that come to visit your local museum and local area, there were mixed answers of which some were saying that they were very happy because they can see different people from different parts of the world, some were saying they can chat with them and know about their culture , their place it’s like sharing a culture and tradition between two different people . some of them were not happy they were sharing me that some tourist are uncivilised they spit on the bus and tube , shout on the bus and tube they said that they were mentally annoyed by the behave of the tourist.

As I asked them my last question , what is the best thing that you like about the museum that is in your area. For this question majority of the volunteer gave me positive feedback ,that the museum is attracting huge no of tourist from the inbound and out bound and it helps them in running their jobs and business ,they are very proud to be the local resident of the historic place ,they and their generation can see different collection of the museum very easily . They and their children can learn from the museum and can be the part of the great museum. As top of this some of them were suggesting that there should be done more in local area by the museum and the government in terms of transport, cleanliness’ and safety to attract more tourist.

Analysis :

Conclusion :








Natural History Museum ,Souvenir Guide to the amazing world of nature.



Cities and visitors: regulating people, markets, and city space By Lily M. Hoffman, Susan S. Fainstein, Dennis R. Judd, page 219













Museum, media, message By Eilean Hooper-Greenhill

Gratton, C., & Jones, I., 2003. Research Methods for Sports Studies. London: Routledge

Saunders, M., Lewis, P., & Thornhill, A., 2007. Research Methods for Business Students 3rd ed. Essex: Pearson Education.


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