Admission price - Merlin response
On Sunday 20 August, the Mail on Sunday in the UK published an article crudely comparing admission prices of Merlin attractions. The allegation was that visitors were paying more for UK attractions versus similar attractions in Europe and that Merlin was purposefully ‘marking-up’ prices for British families.
The article is totally misleading in a number of ways and we wanted to point out a number of inaccuracies and misinterpretations in the Mail article.
Firstly, it is not comparing the same types of attractions. Different attractions, while under the same brand, are of vastly different sizes and offer different types of experience. For example, Madame Tussauds London occupies a 54,000 sq ft site in central London, and alongside its numerous wax figures also contains a tracked ride (Spirit of London), a Marvel 4D cinema and a Star Wars Experience. Madame Tussauds Berlin is a great attraction, but covers less than half the area of Madame Tussauds London and does not house a ride or cinema. Prague is only 1,000 sq ft, so to make a direct comparison with London is completely disingenuous as is the extrapolation of the headline that UK sites are seven times the price of European counterparts - a false statement even by the Mail on Sunday’s own analysis.
Attractions in the UK and Europe also operate in very different economies, employing different numbers of people and incurring different rents and rates which also affect headline price. On top of this, the UK Government charges a VAT rate on attractions that is double that of other European countries which needs to be factored into all UK operations.
Secondly, the Mail on Sunday fails to properly acknowledge different market dynamics. As with most of the hospitality and tourist industry in the UK, a significant proportion of our UK sales are driven through a vast range of packages, offers and discounts that we make widely available through our promotional partners or by booking in advance and online. This means the average entry price is lower than the walk-up price. This is no different if you were to make a hotel or holiday booking. In many parts of Europe this dynamic is not as prevalent, and therefore our walk-up prices are adjusted accordingly.
We welcome guests from all parts of the world to our attractions in the UK. In London, nearly two thirds of our visitor volumes are from visitors to the UK, more than half of which are from Europe. We do not adjust pricing on a discriminatory basis as the article infers. We offer good value entertainment at all our attractions for both UK and foreign visitors.