ALTON Towers and Madame Tussauds owner Merlin Entertainments said today its attractions welcomed more than three million extra visitors last year despite the recession.
Merlin said total visitor numbers rose by 3.4 million to 38.5 million in the year to December 26, as underlying profits rose 17% to £238.6 million.
Chief executive Nick Varley called the business "recession-resilient rather than recession-proof", but added: "People still have high up their demand list quality days out and quality short breaks. Even in difficult times, you need somewhere to take the kids."
He also highlighted the mix and location of attractions as a reason for the group’s resilience. Around 90% of visitors to Alton Towers are UK residents, while around 70% of customers at the London Eye are foreign.
Merlin, which is controlled by private equity giant Blackstone, said like-for-like sales across the group were up 6.4% to £769 million after stripping out currency effects.