National Botanic Garden of Wales sees improved results

The National Botanic Garden of Wales is celebrating on two fronts with the news of good summer visitor numbers and stronger financial figures.

Garden director Huw Francis said: "After a fabulous August with a visitor number that was 23 per cent ahead of target, we are now five per cent ahead of target for the year to date on admissions. This, coupled with the operating surpluses in the last two financial years, is truly excellent news."

Francis said the opening of the new Butterfly House, a new play park and other improvements in the garden’s offer had had a big part to play in the recent successes. He also praised the  role the garden’s staff and volunteers had played: "The enthusiasm and dedication here is fantastic and it is huge credit to them that we are performing so well."

Chair of trustees Rob Jolliffe said: "It feels like the Garden has really turned a corner in terms of its finances and the fabulous figures for summer visitors. Huw and his team should be very proud of their achievements."

Francis added: "Our summer marketing efforts were aimed at boosting family visits so, by any measure, you have to say the campaign has been a big success.

"Plas Pilipala opened on July 1 and has proved very popular but it is one part of an improving picture. Our busy, family-focused calendar of events, our new play park – complete with zipline and trampoline – are also proving a big draw and providing a compelling reason to return, too."

In July this year, the garden had 15,000 visitors which included a 36 per cent increase in the number of family visits on last year.

This performance was eclipsed by the August numbers. Last year’s figure of 16,781 was topped by 43 per cent with a final August 2016 figure of 23,966 visitors. Underlying these numbers is a 68 per cent increase in the number of family visitors enjoying the garden and a 41 per cent increase in the sale of memberships, which offer a year’s worth of entry to the garden for £36.

The south west Wales region has, according to early estimates, seen a double-digit increase in tourists.

The Carmarthenshire attraction’s statutory accounts will be made public in November but the Garden is reporting an operating surplus for 2015/2016.

Carmarthenshire Council's grant for 2016/17 and 2017/18 is on a sliding scale basis of £50,000 for 2016/17 and £30,000 for 2017/18, having been £70,000 in 2015/16. The Welsh Government is also cutting £650,000 annual grants by 11 per cent.  Annual visitor numbers at the £43m attraction were 147,000 for 2015. Francis replaced Rosie Plummer this year.

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