Early Edinburgh Military Tattoo ticket sales slump to lowest since 1999
ADVANCE ticket sales for the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo have slumped to their lowest level for more than a decade.
About 32,000 tickets are still to be shifted, despite a run of successive sell-outs since 1999, after a record number of returns from tourism operators and travel firms last month.
More than half of the show’s tickets are normally sold south of the Border and it is this market that is thought to have been much slower than normal.
However organisers have refused to blame a clash with the London Olympics and insisted the sales figures reflected a growing trade for late booking and wider economic factors.
In a bid to broaden the event’s popularity, a number of new features have been added this year, including urging audiences to “bling up” to help mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, while pop and rock covers feature in the programme of music alongside traditional favourites.
A deal has also been agreed with Disney-Pixar to allow the Tattoo to feature six minutes of music from the new animated film Brave, which is released in Scotland on the opening night of the show.
Tattoo producer Brigadier David Allfrey said he was “very confident” the show would eventually sell out, although he said people would still be able to snap up tickets on the day of performances.
But he admitted “harsh trading conditions” were making it much harder to sell tickets than in previous years.
He added: “People are also booking much later for events like the Tattoo than they would have done in the past and we are having to adapt to that, as is the rest of the industry.”
Alan Smith, head of marketing at the Tattoo, said about 20,000 tickets had been returned from the travel trade last month, their cut-off point for returning unsold briefs, which was “several thousand” more than at the same point last year.
He said: “Our advance sales are down on recent years, but this is a combination of the economic downturn and the fact that as consumer confidence is lower, people are waiting as long as possible to decide on whether to buy tickets for an event like the Tattoo.
“We deal with about 400 travel companies and that whole marketing is a lot different than it was four or five years ago.”
Demand for Tattoo tickets has gradually dipped over the past few years, with the 2011 production the first in a decade not to sell out in advance. Last year was a mixed one for the city’s festivals, with the Fringe achieving a record return at the box office, while the Edinburgh International Festival, and book, jazz and film showcases all suffered a drop in attendances.
The brigadier said this year’s box office performance was in line with expectations but added that the Tattoo suffered from a reputation that tickets were difficult to buy.
He said: “I hear it all the time from taxi drivers. People are always asking how to get tickets, but the reality is we always have returns on the day.”
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