`Expensive' tickets for Dome selling slowly

Click to follow
The Independent Online
TICKETS FOR the Millennium Dome are going extremely slowly with only three of the days it is scheduled to opencoming close to selling out.

From the moment the plans for the Dome were revealed, thedoom-mongers dismissed it as an expensive white elephant; the pounds 20 ticket price and its location in one of the most inaccessible parts of London, they argued, meant that the Dome would be too far and too expensive for a family day out.

Early indications appear to show that the critics are being proved right; sales, particularly in Scotland and the north of England, are not doing well.

Available at 25,000 National Lottery outlets as well as train and bus stations and tour operators, the tickets have been on sale to the public since late September.

Commercial revenue for the Dome, which includes ticket sales, is expected to make up pounds 194m of its pounds 758m budget. The New Millennium Experience Company has been given an additional pounds 50m advance to cover cashflow difficulties before the bulk of the revenue from ticket sales starts coming in.

Yesterday the company said it was confident of attracting the expected 12 million visitors in the first year. A spokesman said: "We have practically sold out on 2 January and there are only a handful of tickets left for the following weekend of the 8th and 9th.

"Overall we are very pleased and sales are going as we had planned. We do not feel that the tickets are too expensive. It would cost more than that to go and see a football match with the whole family and that could mean a long journey as well.

"People come from all over the world to see the other attractions in London so it is not fair to say that people don't want to come because of the journey and the cost." But the newsagents and garages that are responsible for selling the tickets told a different story yesterday. In Chelmsford, Essex, demand is so far very limited. One newsagent said he had sold only seven tickets, while Andy Juscott, of Oaklands Garage in the town, said that no one had bought any tickets. "I'm not interested in the Dome and no one else is either," Mr Juscott said.

A newspaper survey found yesterday that out of a dozen newsagents in Edinburgh, none had sold any tickets. There were also no sales at 10 newsagents in Manchester and only one out of seven shops in Newcastle upon Tyne had shifted any tickets.

Derek McKenzie, of RS McColl in Morningside, Edinburgh, said that despite the slow sales he remained optimistic about the Dome. "At the moment you can only buy tickets to visit until the end of March and I think that most people will want to go when they are already in London doing other things and that is more likely to be in the summer. We haven't sold any yet but I'm sure we will eventually."

At another branch of the store in Edinburgh, Helen Herron, a sales assistant, said: "I think most people think it will be too far to go."

In Manchester, Joyce Heywood, of Woolworths, said a few customers had taken leaflets about the events but no one had yet bought tickets, while in Cardiff two newsagents said they had made no sales and suggested it was too expensive.

Tickets are on sale for visits between 1 January and the end of March. A single adult ticket is pounds 20 and a family ticket for five people costs pounds 57. Concessions are available for school groups.

Additional reporting by Emma Jones, Deborah

Shennan and Max Blobel