In 2018 ERIH in cooperation with the Regionalverband Ruhr carried out a survey of industrial heritage sites in Europe. 275 operators of industrial heritage sites were contacted, of which 80 participated in the survey. Although further responses may be received, the answers received are sufficiently meaningful to be able to evaluate them statistically. In future the survey will be conducted annually.

Why an industrial heritage barometer?

ERIH is often asked by journalists, politicians and other interested parties for data about industrial heritage in Europe. Although many individual locations or regions do collect data on various issues, national and European data is not readily available so far.

ERIH is in contact with many industrial heritage sites in Europe; these contacts can be used for a survey. The Department of Statistics and Survey of the Regionalverband Ruhr (RVR) has many years of recognized expertise and competence in organizing and evaluaing Europe-wide surveys.

Who did we interview?

Based on the questions ERIH is frequently asked, a questionnaire was compiled on the topic groups core data, target groups, perspectives and measures. This formed the basis of a Europe-wide online survey in March 2018.

275 operators of industrial heritage locations were contacted, namely all members of the ERIH association as well as all sites of the Ruhr Route of Industrial Heritage, whose route system is operated by RVR.


80 advertised locations participated in the survey. Although further responses may be received, the responses received are sufficiently high-quality and meaningful to be able to evaluate them statistically. The main results of the Europe-wide survey are summarised below:

Core data
From the participating locations

  • 50% are in public ownership, 28% are run by private organisations and 20% by foundations
  • 79% open all year, 21% seasonal
  • nearly all are dependent on public subsidies of varying amounts to finance current operations:
    - 40% of facilities cover less than 20% of their operating costs through revenue
    - 21% of facilities can cover more than 80% of their operating costs through revenues
  • 43% have 1-5 full-time employees, 23% 11-20 employees, 9% more than 50 employees

Target groups
The industrial heritage sites appeal to broad sections of the population (general public: 98%, families: 90%). In addition, they pursue an important educational mission; for 94% of the locations, students are an important target group. The tourism target groups (Best Ager Over 50s: 85%, Young People: 71%, Educational Travellers: 70% and Mice Group: 63%) are highly rated.

Due to their attractiveness, the industrial heritage sites have a trans-regional appeal: 60% of the visitors come from the region, 30% from the respective country, 10% are international visitors.

The annual visitor numbers are varied and depend, for example, on location, size and attractiveness. In general they have risen steadily in the last three years.

  • 21% of the sites have fewer than 10,000 visitors,
  • 28%  10,001 to  25,000,
  • 22%  25,001 to 100,000,
  • 22% 100,001 to 500,000 and
  •   7% more than 500,001 to more than 1 million visitors.

The locations are optimistic about the future in 2018. The own offer is estimated to be very attractive and competitive.

  • 69% judge that the general trend in visitors is good or very good
  • 68% asses their own competitiveness good or very good

Only the staffing is critically evaluated: 36% rate the staffing negative or very negative.

In 2018, numerous activities and measures were planned, in particular to increase the number of visitors and reach new target groups, to renew the permanent exhibitions and to organize temporary exhibitions.

The most frequently mentioned individual measures include increased marketing efforts, the development of new, experience-oriented offers, a stronger customer orientation and better communication of the offer.

Physical enhancements are designed and implemented at numerous locations. These include development plans, energy efficiency improvements and the enhancements to physical and intellectual accessibility.

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