CowParade churns out increase in city visitors

THE CowParade has been credited with sparking a big rise in visitors to some of the city's leading attractions.

Thousands more people have visited the Royal Botanic Garden and the National Galleries on The Mound in the early part of the summer compared to last year.

Both venues, which hosted their own bovine statues and were included on an official CowParade map, said the event had played a big part in drawing in the crowds.

The National Galleries has seen visitor numbers go up by 26 per cent on last year, while the Botanics has experienced an 11.9 per cent increase.

Martin Reynolds, head of marketing at the National Galleries, said 154,386 people had attended the galleries between mid-May and mid-July this year - up more than 22,000 on last year's 122,157.

He said: "We've been delighted to see a big boost in visitor numbers this year.

"We had the same number and style of exhibitions on this year as last year so it's not as if there was something different last year to skew the numbers - it seems that the CowParade has certainly helped the number of people coming through our doors.

"This is a very in-between period, after Easter and before the Festivals - that was a major reason for us getting involved. It's a quieter time of the year for us and we thought this would be a way of boosting visitor numbers.

"It's not just about visitor numbers though - the CowParade is something new and exciting for the city and we've been delighted to be involved in it. We'll be sad to see the cows go."

The Botanics also attributed the boost to its numbers to the success of the CowParade.

Bosses saw 68,082 people enter the Gardens during the first month of the CowParade, from mid May to mid June, well up on the 61,154 counted during the same period last year.

Dr David Rae, director of horticulture at the Botanics, said: "While it is difficult to determine exactly why people visit the Garden, our staff have reported consistently high levels of enquiries regarding the whereabouts of our cow throughout the duration of the CowParade."

CowParade Edinburgh comes to an end this Sunday. The 150 cows, which have been decorated by local artists, children, community groups and celebrities, have spent ten weeks outside some of the city's most famous attractions.

They will be auctioned off on September 7, with the proceeds going to charities VETAID and OneCity Trust.

Organisers say they have been delighted with the event.

Charlie Langhorne, managing director of CowParade Europe, said: "The quality of the cows in Edinburgh has been outstanding. The feedback from the public, partners, sponsors and friends has been overwhelmingly positive.

"We very much look forward to the auction when people will have the opportunity to purchase one of these magnificent bovines."

Lord Provost Lesley Hinds said: "The CowParade Edinburgh has been a fantastic opportunity to showcase our beautiful city with a quirky twist.

"It has also been a great chance for local businesses to work with the artistic sector and local community to create some truly memorable, inspiring cow art.

"The people of the city really took the cows to their hearts and it will be a shame to see them go."

A spokeswoman for Scottish Enterprise Edinburgh and Lothian added: "This has been a great success story for Edinburgh, raising the city's profile even further as an international tourist destination which can attract visitors on so many different levels."