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Tuesday, 16 July, 2002, 09:04 GMT 10:04 UK
Lifeline for Botanic Garden
The Botanic Gardens were set up in 2000
The National Botanic Garden at Llanarthne in Carmarthenshire has been thrown a financial lifeline by the National Assembly Government after a fall in visitor numbers.

The assembly is to pump 360,000 into the flagship Millennium project, which is currently attracting 80% of the visitors it needs to meet its budget.

Botanic Garden visitors
Visitor numbers have fallen this year

Consultants are also being appointed to help the charitable trust to secure its future.

Culture Minister Jenny Randerson explained that she wanted to ensure the garden fulfilled its potential as a tourist facility.

"They are experiencing some difficulties at the moment, not just because there has been bad weather and the foot-and-mouth disease has hit them badly."

Ms Randerson also said it was difficult to establish a National Botanic Garden, and the project would not become a success overnight.

"The first years are bound to be difficult and tough, and these extra pressures have made it that much more difficult for them."

The money has been welcomed by Alan Hayward, the Chairman of the Botanic Garden, who denied the project was in trouble.

"We can balance our books, but the choice was made by the assembly we continue our development."


Gardens take time to grow - we can't wave a magic wand. This is a very long-term project

Alan Hayward, Botanic Garden Chairman

"We are lacking visitors, but this doesn't threaten our future - it threatens the speed and course of our development."

Mr Hayward admitted that visitor numbers were running about 20% below the budget, but was confident the garden could survive within its existing finance plan.

He said the assembly's decision to provide this cash boost meant that cuts to the gardens and spending - which would hinder the development of the site - could be avoided.

"Gardens take time to grow - we can't wave a magic wand. This is a very long-term project," he added.

"We have a business plan which runs for five years, and I think our assumptions about visitor growth are very modest."

The 43.3m Millennium project, boasting among its attractions the world's largest greenhouse, attracted large queues when it opened in 2000 and recently celebrated its second anniversary.


Where I Live, South West Wales
See also:

24 May 02 | Wales
06 Nov 00 | Wales
24 May 00 | Wales
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