Several readers have asked OnTheWight how this compares with visitor numbers prior to the Garden being signed over to Mr Curtis’ Community Interest Company (CIC) in 2012.
Significant drop in visitors
The Isle of Wight council were able to confirm:
April 2009 – March 2010 saw 265,000 visitors
April 2010 – December 2010 saw 224,000 visitors
It’s not hard to see these are in stark contrast to the visitor numbers revealed by Mr Curtis last month.
The introduction of entrance fees
As he’d warned prior to signing the 125 year lease, Mr Curtis introduced entry charges to the Garden, not only for holiday makers, but also Islanders.
Although understandable as necessary to mitigate against the previous annual loss of £250,000, this was met by many Islanders with considerable anger.
The first year saw a large menu of confused pricing, but this seemed to be tackled in the second year, with the options appearing a little more concise, if not still slightly confusing to some.
Fencing and gates
Mr Curtis also erected locked gates and some fencing around the Garden, which we’re told has made it impossible – even for Friends – to stroll the Garden in the evenings.
He recently told Friends he was disappointed with persistent trespassing and that, “We are being forced to install fences, not our preferred strategy,” although many of the gates around the garden were installed in 2012.