Top visitor site bucking the trend

29/7/10  Harlow Carr Gardens,  Harrogate
29/7/10 Harlow Carr Gardens, Harrogate

Visitor numbers at one of Harrogate’s most popular attractions are bucking the national trend - despite one of the wettest summers in British history.

Sites across the UK have recorded an average decline of 4.7per cent for last year, with Harewood House revealing a drastic 25.6 per cent drop in the number of visitors.

But RHS Harlow Carr in Harrogate - with 320,242 visitors - has seen a boom in popularity with its figures up 7.9 per cent year on year.

“The RHS has invested in the gardens and it really shows,” a spokesman said. “We’ve seen a rise for the past three years.

“We get people who really enjoy their horiculture but it’s also a safe garden for young families as well. The littlies are quite entertained.

“Harrogate is a brilliant place in terms of tourism. And then we have 12,000 school children coming every year for free.”

The site hadn’t escaped damage from last year’s wet weather, with footpaths washed away, but a warm spell in March helped boost numbers.

The figures, described as “sobering” by the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA), showed that visitor numbers at Harewood House are down 25.6 per cent to 186,813.

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, near Ripon, has seen a 6.2per cent drop in visitor numbers to 330,096.

Bernard Donoghue, of Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA), said: “These figures are definitely sobering reading and show that the summer of 2012 has been a difficult time financially for our most popular and best-loved visitor attractions.”