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'He had a month to turn things around'
BBC's David Sillito
 real 28k

Wednesday, 8 March, 2000, 13:54 GMT
Dome aims to cut queues
Pierre Yves Gerbeau
Mr Gerbeau says visitors will get more time for their money
An attempt to encourage more people to visit the Millennium Dome has been launched by chief executive Pierre-Yves Gerbeau.

The scheme includes longer opening hours and half-price tickets for some evening visits.

There will also be special timed tickets, which the organisers say will mean no-one having to wait for more than 20 minutes.

Mr Gerbeau was brought in a month ago when former chief executive Jennie Page resigned amid criticisms of poor attendance figures and long queues, especially for the Body Zone.

The new boss hopes his measures will address those gripes.

body zone
Queues for the Body Zone could drop to 20 mins
At present, the doors close at 1800GMT but from 1 April, the Dome will stay open into the evening.

The admission price - currently 20 for adults - will drop to 10 after 1700GMT Sunday to Thursday and there are special afternoon rates running until the end of March.

In addition, there will be a special discount of 20% for those who want to pay a second visit.

Mr Gerbeau said: "We are making the experience more fun and more comfortable - keeping people moving and keeping the Dome moving forward."

But he denied that the special offers were a desperate move to boost visitor numbers.

"We're just making sure that people understand it is very affordable," he told the BBC.

"It is better on a daily basis and we are quickly making it an even more spectacular show," he added.

Attendance up

After a shaky start - with fewer than 5,000 visitors on some days in January - admission figures for the Dome are picking up. The attraction welcomed its millionth customer on Saturday.

The New Millennium Experience Company, which runs the Dome, estimates that 32,000 people a day will visit from Sunday to Thursday when the attraction will close at 2000GMT.

On Friday and Saturday it will be open until 2300GMT with an estimated visitor level of 45,000 a day.

The company says it remains confident of reaching its new - and lower - break-even figure of 10 million admission-paying visitors over the year.

Giving people timed tickets to the Body Zone is intended to cut waiting times at the zone down from as much as two hours to about 20 minutes.

The company also announced that visitors would be seeing a new spectacular last act to the Millennium Show, which is staged in the Dome's central area.

And in a further move, children on free school visits will now be allowed to see the Body Zone, although they will still be being barred from the Play and Rest zones.

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See also:

22 Feb 00 |  UK Politics
Dome a national embarrassment - Tories
15 Feb 00 |  UK
Dome ops director quits
17 Feb 00 |  UK
'Month to rescue Dome'
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