Thousands of visitors have flocked to two prominent tourist attractions over the spring and summer months with the organisation behind the buildings increasing its income which is vital to its future.
Nelson’s Tower and a new tour at the Tolbooth which are both operated by the Forres Heritage Trust attracted over 3300 visitors, many coming from overseas including from Russia, Turkey, Malaysia and China.
Footfall to the Tolbooth on Forres High Street was also boosted with the return of a four-day photographic exhibition which ran for the first time since the covid pandemic. The show held in September raised nearly £1100 for the Trust.
George Alexander, chairman of the Forres Heritage Trust said he and other Trustees were happy with the season: “This is our first full season of operating with no restrictions and it was the first time that the tours at the Tolbooth ran and we are very pleased with the uptake. It was great to see both Nelson’s Tower and the Tolbooth busy again and we know that the volunteers enjoyed talking to both locals and visitors alike.”
George added that the installation of card payment machines helped with donations and payments at both venues: “This is the first time that we have been able to take card payments and this has made a huge difference to how people can donate and pay. Nelson’s Tower is entry by donation and the Tolbooth tour was a set price and having the card readers definitely helped secure more monies for the Trust. The Trust is a registered charity and we rely on the donations as well as seeking funding and grants for the upkeep of the buildings, particularly the Tolbooth which we own.”
However, whilst it was a buoyant season, Peter Haworth a Trustee who co-ordinates the volunteers issued a stark warning: “Going into next season we need more volunteers. The Forres Heritage Trust is now operating two very good tourist attractions between April and the end of September and to ensure that they run successfully we need more helpers. We have 29 active volunteers, but going forward as our offering grows, in particular the tours at the Tolbooth, we are going to need more support. We simply cannot sustain what we want to do with the numbers that we have.”
Whilst the key tourist season is now over, work continues at the Forres Heritage Trust with events planned almost all year round.
George said: “We are very keen to grow what we offer at the Forres Heritage Trust and we want to get more involved in local events. Our popular winter talks will make a return in the early part of 2023, however, as Peter says, we need more people to lend a hand to make all of this sustainable.”