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Sir Tim Smit says Eden Project will bounce back after its 'bruising' year

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: January 30, 2013

Tim Smit at The Eden Project where, for the first time, visitor figures have dipped below the one million mark

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Eden Project co-founder Sir Tim Smit said he hoped the iconic attraction would "bounce back" in 2013 after a drop in visitor numbers and delays in new business forced the possible loss of up to 70 jobs.

The landmark attraction, which lost some 30 staff this time last year, confirmed on Monday that up to one in seven staff could leave as it looks to cut costs by £2 million a year.

Eden, which currently has the equivalent of 445 full-time posts, blamed a combination of poor weather, a successful Olympics and the ongoing recession.

"We have had another horror with the weather and we will, for the first time, come in just under the one million visitors mark," Sir Tim said yesterday. "In psychological terms that's a bit of a bruiser.

"We are hoping that the year was so exceptional, with such an amazing Olympics, that 2013 will be the year that we bounce back."

The environmental attraction, built for an initial £80 million, opened in a former china clay pit near St Austell in 2001 and is among the most successful schemes funded by the Millennium Commission.

But Sir Tim said they moved three years ago to create a more "mixed economy" at Eden, instead of being wholly reliant on tourist income.

That includes innovative new schemes such as HOW2 – an initiative with Cornwall College to develop a training facility to serve the emerging green economy. But he admitted that planned projects, which could create another 150 jobs and could yet absorb some of those facing redundancy, were 6-9 months behind schedule. In the next few months, Eden is also hoping to announce a deal in China which Sir Tim said would be a "wonderful portal into China for all the green technology we are promoting here in Cornwall".

With its combination of problems, Sir Tim said they had been forced to make the "sad" but "grown up decision" to cut costs and jobs.

But he said: "There would be nothing more damaging (to Cornwall) than having a blue riband project looking like it wasn't capable of being run properly."

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  • OscarDelta  |  January 30 2013, 10:55PM

    As a genuine advocate of the importance of tourism in Kernow, I am struggling to believe how negative some are being about this immense and important honey-pot cash cow. We really need attractions like this to draw immense attraction and it seems none has proved better than doing that than sir Tim. We need to applaud him and encourage the honeypot that Eden is so we can bring people in and still get to the places we love, without jeopardising them. Then when they all go hone Sir Tim lets us all in for a fiver so we can champion it smoe more. How can anyone complain about that?

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  • manicstreet  |  January 30 2013, 10:01PM

    @Aussielady Im sure you would not be so enthusiastic if your tax money was being wasted on this white elephant. on the positive side if you want to see lovely gardens i suggest you try Trebah and trelissick both of which are cheaper than eden. i do hope you enjoy your visit to cornwall.

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  • Aussielady  |  January 30 2013, 9:24PM

    Coming from Australia I am surprised at how many sneering and negative comments there are about Eden's demise. We only get about 6 million tourists visit our whole country each year, about 1.6 - 2million of those visit the amazing World Heritage Great Barrier Reef. To have a visitor attraction that has about a million people visit it each year is extraordinary for a rural area. Any rural region in Australia would kill for a site like Eden bringing that many people into its local economy!

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  • AllbertRos  |  January 30 2013, 6:16PM

    The entry costs are no doubt so high because they built the place way below the water table (not perhaps obvious when it was a working pit when STS had his brainwave) and they must be spending a fortune eveyday pumping the water out. More so with one of the wettest periods on record. Without some form of free energy supply the site is simply not sustainable

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  • cheekyman_jr  |  January 30 2013, 2:49PM

    The Eden Project is nothing more than false eco-minded pap run by money grabbing ******. If you want to save the world Tim, you're gonna have to stop digging it up and transporting it to a greenhouse in the middle of Cornwalls ********.

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  • josdave  |  January 30 2013, 2:07PM

    I'm sorry for those who are losig their jobs but who in their right mind would pay such an inflated price to walk around a greenhouse? I bet his bank account is very healthy though.

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  • shagrats  |  January 30 2013, 1:25PM

    And where is the proposed Geothermal well that the Eden Project was going to be partners in. That will take alot of planting to cover up a 40m tall German drilling rig. I havent heard anything from that lot for ages. I presume that since the grant money has dried up its no longer feasable.

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  • manicstreet  |  January 30 2013, 1:15PM

    Im sure Tims pockets are bulging with cash . The taxpayer takes the loss and he takes the cream .

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  • Truro_England  |  January 30 2013, 1:07PM

    Tim has his begging bowl out, a few grants here and the odd fund there will help him

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  • Lafrowda  |  January 30 2013, 11:20AM

    Looking to bounce back into a few untapped pockets?

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