LONDON, March 26 (Xinhua) -- Britain's famous tourist attractions, from palaces and castles to galleries and zoos, have closed their doors to visitors because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Instead, millions of people from around the world are taking virtual tours of tourism hotspots across Britain, the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) said Thursday in a new report.
ALVA said millions of people are discovering the breadth, depth and diversity of Britain's visitor attractions through websites and digital galleries, science podcasts, virtual tours of the Houses of Parliament, through to web-cams of zoos and safari parks, as well as being able to take part in church and cathedral services and watching opera and theater.
ALVA Director Bernard Donoghue said: "In the last week or so there has been an explosion in the number of people, here in Britain and around the world, virtually visiting the UK's top visitor attractions."
ALVA had been scheduled this week to reveal its top tourism attractions of the year, but the announcement has been postponed because of the health crisis.
ALVA said the British Museum, Natural History Museum, V&A, Science Museum and National Gallery have all seen a substantial increase in visitors to their websites.
The number of visitors to the British Museum's website has doubled in the past two and a half weeks, while visits to the National Gallery's virtual tour pages are up almost 800 percent compared to last week, and 1,144 percent up over last year.
The V&A's blog is up 147 percent week on week, while the Science Museum has seen a threefold increase in views for its games section.
Britain's best-known cathedrals, from Durham to Canterbury are streaming church services.
Zoo cams have also become popular sites for virtual visitors.
Even William Shakespeare is proving to be a website hit more than 400 years after his death. Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon is offering a video tour of the five Shakespeare family homes.
Visitors can travel even further back in time to the early days of the Roman occupation of Britain around 2,000 years ago, by paying a virtual visit to the Roman Baths in the City of Bath.
Emma Martin, senior curator at National Museum Liverpool's World Museum said: "Staying at home doesn't mean you miss out on visiting our museum. Thanks to public feedback on what people would like to see while our doors are temporarily closed, we've created a virtual tour of the World Cultures gallery with our friends at John Moores University."
Science Director Dr Roger Highfield from the Science Museum in London has even published an in-depth look at the science of the coronavirus, exploring what we know and don't know about the virus and examining its ongoing impact.
His work brings into sharp focus the biggest ever shutdown since World War II of Britain's famous tourist sites. Enditem