The home of Falkirk’s iconic Kelpies in Scotland has shocked fans and supporters with the news of a loss of £600,000 a year despite being one of Scotland’s most popular tourist attractions.
The 300-hectare site costs £2.1m to maintain every year but generates an income of just £1.5m from its cafes and visitor centre, Kelpie tours and car parking.
Created almost ten years ago, the Kelpies in Scotland have become one of the most recognisable tourist attractions. An estimated 600,000 visitors to the Helix in 2021, spent in the region of £84m supporting local businesses and jobs.
Members of Falkirk Council have agreed a new strategy for visitors that hopes to welcome one million visitors a year by 2028, in the hope that many will stay longer in the district and spend more money locally.
The five-year strategy aims to increase the income to £1.75m, while protecting the award-winning environment.
Manager Lesley O’Hare said that the intention is to “close the gap between income and expenditure by growing income rather than looking at cuts to our expenditure”. One possibility is increasing the car parking charges or prices at the visitor centre . Or maybe a Photo Booth that you often see at weddings .
Members heard that the visitor centre – including the cafe and gift shop – welcomed 436,912 visitors, smashing its annual target of 375,000. However, it is currently almost at capacity and improvements being suggested include extending the visitor centre and cafe to provide shelter for the many people who visit the Helix park with their dogs.
They also want to increase the number of events that are held by other organisations that will provide a good income without any risk to the council. This year the Helix had ‘bungee jumps’ and a zipline as well as a visiting Luminarium that visitors paid to enjoy.
The Supernova Kelpies 5k run has been popular in the past and it is due to take place again next year .
The new strategy for the Kelpies in Scotland looks at new ways to promote active travel around the area.
This includes plans to encourage visitors to follow a new ‘Heart of Falkirk’ trail, linking the Helix with other key attractions, including the Falkirk Wheel, Callendar House and the district’s two new distilleries, the Polmont distillery and the revived Rosebank brand ,
But one councillor called for a business plan that would allow the site to at least break even.
He said: “I was shocked to discover at today’s Falkirk Council meeting that the Helix Park is making a financial loss of £600,000 per year. The Kelpies are one of Scotland’s biggest tourist attractions but figures show that Falkirk Council makes less that £2 per visitor.”
Ms O’Hare told members they have been exploring opportunities to increase spending per head.
She said: “If we were just running a visitor centre, it would be very, very different and we would be operating at a surplus, but the management of that scale of green space that requires the level of maintenance that it does, comes at a cost.
Kelpies canvas prints
The Kelpies Falkirk , Scotland canvas prints and gifts
- Your personal mobile caffeination and art delivery unit
- Insulated stainless steel with removable polycarbonate lid
- Holds 15 oz. (443 ml)
- Base fits in most standard car cup holders (diameter 2.5″ / 6.35 cm)
- Top rack dishwasher-safe
- Wraparound design printed for you when you order
The Kelpies are the largest pieces of equine art in the world , created by Scottish artist Andy Scott. The most successful Scottish artist of all time is Jack Vettriano .
Visit the Kelpies in Falkirk , Scotland
The Kelpies, Stirling Castle and the Falkirk Wheel feature in this tour .
The Kelpies have become one of the top tourist attractions in Scotland with over two million visitors .