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Friday, 2 June, 2000, 15:18 GMT 16:18 UK
Dome visitors fall sharply
Millennium Dome
The Dome needs 20,000 visitors a day to keep afloat
The number of visitors to the Millennium Dome in May has fallen by almost 80,000 on the previous month.

Attendances at the struggling attraction reached only 502,204 compared with 579,333 in April.


Dome visitors
Jan: 366,420
Feb: 569,538
Mar: 556,308
Apr: 579,333
May: 502,204
To reach the revised annual target of seven million, 20,000 visitors a day are needed, but an average of just 16,200 passed through the doors in May.

The Dome's chief executive put a brave face on the figures.

Pierre-Yves Gerbeau said: "We are well on our way to achieving our new, realistic, target of seven million visitors."

His optimism is based on hopes for an influx of visitors in the busy summer season, when more families and overseas tourists are expected at the attraction in Greenwich, south London.

The May total included 64,179 free school visits and also a one-day record of 34,083 visitors on the Spring Bank Holiday on 29 May.

Troubled attraction

The Dome was in turmoil earlier in the month after asking the Millennium Commission for a further grant of National Lottery money.

The commission granted 29m but demanded the resignation of Bob Ayling, the chairman of the New Millennium Experience Company - which runs the Dome.

Mr Ayling was replaced by British Tourist Authority chairman and NMEC board member David Quarmby.

Last week, a BBC poll found that 77% of members of the public asked think the Dome should be closed.

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See also:

24 May 00 | UK
MPs demand Dome inquiry
23 May 00 | UK
Dome chief resigns
25 Apr 00 | UK
Dome's Easter flop
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