GLOUCESTER Docks is officially the county’s most popular attraction with four million visitors expected to descend on the area in 2014.
The waterfront location leaves Gloucester Cathedral in the shadow with its visitor numbers climbing up to 500,000.
Even Cheltenham Racecourse with its 700,000 visitors doesn’t come close.
The rising success of the docks is partly attributed to the rapidly changing Gloucester Quays shopping and leisure complex. It now boasts more than 60 brands and employs more than 2,000 people. It has seen a 33 per cent increase in sales year-on-year in December and a 69 per cent increase year-on-year for January, typically the gloomiest of months for retailers.
There has been a 42 per cent rise in sales since the leisure quarter, which now includes a Cineworld, opened.
Bosses at the centre said they are expecting their busiest year yet with some four million visitors piling into the docks.
Jason Pullen, managing director of Peel Outlets, which runs Gloucester Quays, said: “We are absolutely delighted with the figures. We had a bumper Christmas and an even better January, which is often seen by retailers as the quietest part of the year.
“It has been a brilliant start to the year in which we are expecting four million visitors to come to Gloucester Quays whether it be for food, film or fashion.
“We are now Gloucestershire’s most popular attraction. With more announcements to come about new brands opening at the Quays, we are very excited about what 2014 holds.
“It all in turn gives people in Gloucester more reason to stay in the city and is attracting new people from across the region to come and enjoy what our city has to offer.”
But the city’s other attractions are fighting back and the Trip Advisor website says there are 425 attractions which marvel across the county.
Gloucester Cathedral, which was built between 1089 and 1499, is listed as a top five UK visitor attraction in Which? magazine readers’ survey.
The Cathedral is pressing ahead with Project Pilgrim – a £5million plan to redevelop the Cathedral entrance and surrounds to make it even more appealing to tourists.
Gloucester City Council leader Paul James previously said: “The Cathedral is our greatest asset and we should make the most of it. It needs to evolve to be able to continue to compete as a visitor attraction. Project Pilgrim will help it to achieve this. I think the plans are very exciting.”
Calls for the Cathedral to be put forward as a possible UNESCO world heritage site have been put on ice, however, after it emerged that it would cost in the region of £500,000 to prepare an application.
VISITORS IN NUMBERS
Gloucester Docks – 4 million
Cheltenham Racecourse – 700,000
Gloucester Cathedral – 500,000
Slimbridge Wetland Centre – 230,000
TOP EVENTS AT THE DOCKS
Gloucester Tall Ships Festival – 150,000
Gloucester Quays Home and Garden party – 60,000
Gloucester Docks Fireworks – 15,000