Royal Highland Show 'at capacity' as ticket sales set new record
ORGANISERS of Scotland's major agricultural showpiece say the event has now reached a capacity on its current site as they revealed that ticket sales are running around 10 per cent ahead of last year's record-breaking event.
More than 200,000 worth of tickets for the Royal Highland Show, which starts tomorrow, have been sold in advance - more than ever before - in the wake of a campaign to sell them as Christmas presents.
Officials also took out TV advertising for the second year in a row and launched a major marketing drive targeting the business community to persuade them to tap into the annual celebration of farming, food and drink, and the countryside.
Visitor numbers at the four-day event have soared from 148,283 in 2007 to 187,644 last year, with the Saturday attendance of 57,000 the highest on record.
The Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland, which runs the showground complex at Ingliston near Edinburgh and organises the show, was given a huge boost in April when it learned that the city council had approved a 30 million masterplan to overhaul and expand the existing site.
Chief executive Stephen Hutt confirmed that work would begin within months on the first phase of the revamp, which will see a brand new hotel built on a new access road into the site, which will also boast a new main entrance.
Mr Hutt said: "We could actually expand onto another part of our site at the moment, but we are conscious of the fact that last year, when we had our biggest ever crowds, we were reaching capacity in the car parks.
"It's about striking the right balance when it comes to organising the show and we're conscious of that with the planning of the improvements at the showground."
The improvements to the showground, which also include a major new exhibition hall, an agricultural centre of excellence and a new main pavilion overlooking the showground arena, are expected to see the economic benefits generated by the show soar from its current level of around 75 million.
Show manager David Dunsmuir added: "We are very pleased with our advance sales, which are stronger than ever, and we really put that down to the marketing campaigns we have run in the last couple of years.
"The forecast is poorest for Thursday and Friday, but we have a very loyal audience for both of those days and we're completely full for traders and have been for some time, much earlier than last year.
"We try to keep the show fresh every year, and introduce new elements, and we've got growing numbers of children coming to the show, as it has been free for under-16s for the past few years."Among the highlights of this year's show are a Six Nations sheep-shearing contest, a first for the show, on Sunday, a major summit on food sustainability on Thursday, and a celebration of the Scottish Borders.
More than 40 businesses from theBorders will be taking part in the event.
Among those displaying their talents at the food and drink theatre will be food writer Lady Claire Macdonald, owner of Kinloch Lodge, on Skye; chef Tom Lewis, of Monachyle Mhor at Balquhidder in Perthshire; and haggis-maker Jo Macsween.
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Saturday 18 May 2013
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