Kew Gardens: Opening for Nothing

By | Category: Travel rumblings

On New Years day, Kew Gardens opened its gates and waived its entrance fees.
Why?
To begin the year long celebrations for its 250th birthday. In 1759 it opened its gates for the first time and some of the trees planted about that time still survive. Apparently some 26,000 of us visited Kew on that day. But the publicity was more important. Not only was the story covered by all the television channels I watched but there were longer pieces after the visitor figures were released.
Good for Kew.
This gesture highlighted Kew (not that it needs highlighting as anyone who goes there will know.) and obviously generated lots of interest. Kew is somwhere that everybody should visit at least once not just for the trees, bushes and plants but the walks by the riverside and the sheer tranquillity. (apart from being on the Heathrow flight path.)
It is quite common in the United States for museums, galleries and attractions to open for nothing on one day a week. In Chicago, for example, I think the Art Institute is free on Tuesdays. It may well be that the day is the slackest visitor day of the week. That doesn’t matter for it will encourage people who might not otherwise go either due to lack of interest or money. And whilst they are there, the cafe’s and gift shops will probably relieve the visitors of some of their cash!
We are lucky in this country that many of our most famous and important buildings and attractions are open for nothing. But a lot aren’t and that includes some cathedrals and stately homes including virtually all National Trust, National Trust for Scotland, Cadw and English Heritage sites.
Would opening free one day a week or even one day a month cause them so much angst? Yes they will lose their admission fees for the day but they might get loyal, long term visitors as a result.

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