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."
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.