03 09/03/2011

Zoos a boon for tourist industry

THE pivotal role that zoos play in the UK’s tourism and leisure industry should not be underestimated.

That was the message from Chester Zoo’s Managing Director Barbara Smith as preparations for British Tourism Week got underway.

Mrs Smith said zoos were a linchpin for the tourism sector in the UK, with leading zoos such as Chester attracting visitors from around the world.

Her message came as Mrs Smith and Chester Zoo’s Director General Dr Mark Pilgrim met Chester MP Stephen Mosley to discuss British Tourism Week.

“Every year, zoos in the UK attract more visitors in terms of numbers than attend football matches. Many millions of people around the globe vote with their feet every year and have an enjoyable day out at UK zoos.

“The strength and popularity of zoos cannot be underestimated – we play a key role in the UK’s tourism and leisure industry, generating income for the wider economy. Mr Mosley is very supportive of us here in Chester and we were delighted to be able to meet up with him and discuss the impact zoos can, and do, have,” said Mrs Smith.

British Tourism week – which runs from March 12 – 20 – celebrates the role organisations such as Chester Zoo have in the tourism sector - the fifth largest industry in the UK.

Mrs Smith and Dr Pilgrim also talked to Mr Mosley about the zoo’s plans for 2011.

The zoo’s latest exhibit, Painted dogs – will open to the public on April 6. Home to a pack of seven dogs, also known as African Hunting Dogs, the new exhibit will be opened by world renowned conservationist Tony Fitzjohn OBE.

Mr Fitzjohn is Field Director of the George Adamson Wildlife Preservation Trust who has worked with the Government of Tanzania on the rehabilitation of Mkomazi National Park.  Mkomazi National Park is home to wild populations of the dogs and has been supported by the zoo in its role as a conservation charity for 11 years.

A new visitor experience will also open in the summer although details are being kept under wraps.

“Chester Zoo, like all forward-thinking organisations, is always evolving and offering new bigger and better experiences for visitors. As the most-visited zoo in the UK, we have a lot to offer and are looking forward to sharing our new exciting developments with our visitors,” added Mrs Smith.

Cap: Barbara Smith, Stephen Mosley MP and Dr Mark Pilgrim at Chester Zoo.

Ends                            9 March 2011

Notes to editors:

Chester Zoo
The zoo – home to 7,000 animals, 400 species, welcomes 1.3 million visitors a years and is a registered conservation charity, supporting conservation programmes across the globe – chesterzoo.org for details.

British Tourism Week
For information on British Tourism Week visit:
http://www.britishtourismweek.com/