Summer visitor numbers looking good for gardens

Public gardens are reporting a strong summer for visitor numbers although it is not yet clear how much this may be down to the "Brexit bounce" and the weak pound.

Kew: more than 58,000 visitors in first week of August
Kew: more than 58,000 visitors in first week of August

The Bank of England predicted UK residents would stay at home rather than take their cash abroad following the post-referendum pound plunge, while travel companies have recorded a rise in interest in the UK as a destination.

The Office for National Statistics' International Passenger Survey results for June, due on 19 August, should give an idea of any visitor spike. Gardens have yet to publish visitor figures for the post-Brexit period but early indications suggest the weak pound is having an impact, while garden managers report seeing more overseas visitors.

Meanwhile, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew experienced its busiest July and start of August ever and its best week yet for ticket sales. More than 58,000 visitors came to the gardens in the first week of August, of which 31,310 were paying visitors - double the number for the same period last year. Some 18,650 entered on 6 August alone, partly due to events such as The Hive and Kew's first Science Festival.

Visit Britain director Patricia Yates said businesses in the tourist sector are in "a positive mood", while the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions said signs are positive. Director Bernard Donohue pointed to the "huge turnout" for the first Countryfile Live festival at Blenheim Palace and a "busy" RHS Garden Hyde Hall Flower Show, both on the first weekend of August.

"The Magic Garden at Hampton Court Palace is attracting huge numbers of visitors, especially families, and is proving to be one of the most successful new visitor attraction additions in the UK," he added. "The good weather forecast for the rest of the summer will be great for gardens, especially where they are hosting events for all the family."

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