Page last updated at 16:03 GMT, Tuesday, 4 August 2009 17:03 UK

Visitor numbers soar at bird site

Wild Bird Discovery Centre at Saltholme
The centre has helped boost tourist numbers in the area

More than 50,000 visitors have passed through the doors of Teesside wildlife centre in its first six months.

Bosses at Saltholme Wild Bird Discovery Centre had predicted just 35,000 visits for the whole year when the site opened in late January.

They now believe the £7m centre, near Middlesbrough, could attract 100,000 by the end of the year.

Tourism officials also say the centre is helping boost visitor numbers at other Teesside attractions.

Julia Frater, head of visitTeesvalley, said: "The success of Saltholme has had a tremendous effect on the Tees Valley as a whole.

"Local attractions such as the Transporter Bridge and the Teesmouth National Nature Reserve at Seal Sands are just a few that have seen a significant rise in visitors as a direct result of the opening of the wildlife reserve and discovery park."

The 1,000-acre (440-hectare) reserve was developed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the Teesside Environmental Trust.

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