Gardens seek to boost visitors

Special events and ticket discounts aim to build awareness and attract more people to gardens.

Kew: Tropical Extravaganza event - Image: RBG, Kew
Kew: Tropical Extravaganza event - Image: RBG, Kew

Public gardens are trying to boost visitor numbers this year with ticket discounts and special events.

West Dean Gardens in West Sussex has reduced its ticket prices and children under 15 will pay £1 from March.

Marketing officer Christine Virginie said: "We are trying to encourage family outings. The child rate used to be £4 so this is a big drop. There will also be a new rate of £9 for adults and £8.50 for over-60s.

"There is a family restaurant with a children's menu and we are hoping to make it a good day out. Our events should also bring in visitors - last year, we had 20,000 visitors over the three days of our chilli festival."

Waterperry Gardens PR and events manager Susie Hunt added: "We are offering deals such as two-for-one offers for Telegraph subscribers. "Also, we are open free for RHS members, and in return we become one of its recommended gardens."

Meanwhile, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is hoping to draw large numbers with its major events. These include its Tropical Extravaganza running until 4 March, which has attracted 100,000 visitors in the past. It is also increasing spending on advertising.

"The response from the media and the public so far to the Tropical Extravaganza has been really positive," said director of public engagement and learning Professor Angela McFarlane. "Visitors have perked up since the summer and we had a good autumn and Christmas."

Funding Pressure - Cope with cuts by working more efficiently

RBG, Kew director of public engagement and learning Professor Angela McFarlane said funding cuts were putting pressure on the gardens. "We haven't had to cancel work but we have delayed a lot. We haven't been able to fill vacancies so we have a smaller workforce and have to work more efficiently."

Some 98 per cent of visitors rate their day at Kew as good or excellent and 80 per cent think that it is good value, she added.

"The challenge is making people aware, because if they haven't been they regard the entrance fee as expensive. Advertising spending will go up a bit to get the message out.

"We have to be canny about how we use budgets and we are making more use of digital technology."


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