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22 April 2004
Stonehenge is heading towards 1 million visitors a year

Stonehenge is heading towards the magical one million visitors a year mark, after its busiest Easter in five years. Over the bank holiday weekend, 18,000 pairs of feet tramped around the world famous prehistoric monument, an increase of 23 per cent on figures over Easter last year.
     English Heritage, which manages the ancient monument, is keeping its fingers crossed that the Easter boost in attendance figures is maintained throughout the year. Stonehenge is English Heritage's most visited site and figures for the year ending March 2003, show that more than three-quarters-of-a-million people visited the monument. A spokeswoman for English Heritage said figures for this year were "already looking good" and there were "hopeful signs" that Stonehenge was edging towards the one million mark.
     The Visit Britain group, which markets British tourism and compiles a league table of the country's attractions, puts Stonehenge as the UK's fifth-most popular major historic property. Visit Britain figures show Stonehenge attracted 759,697 visitors in 2002, an increase of 19 per cent over 2001. Nearly half of those visiting the monument each year are foreign tourists.
     It is believed the Easter figures were helped by good weather and by the surge in interest in the World Heritage site brought about by the ongoing Stonehenge public inquiry and the monument's appearance on television screens. It was featured in a recent BBC2 fly-on-the-wall series, a documentary looking at its origins was screened in March and last year Stonehenge was voted Britain's finest ancient monument in a Channel 5 programme.

Source: This is Amesbury (21 April 2004)

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