Dome Front

The tide is turning. This poll is just the latest evidence that public support for the Dome is on the up and that the trends are going our way.

The more people know about the Dome, the more excited they are by the idea of visiting it. Its success is likely to be judged on the number of people who visit it, and according to this poll we are heading for a sell-out. Twenty-six per cent of adults say they are likely to visit the Dome – more than 14 million visitors from the UK alone. We expect a further 2.5 million from overseas.

Intention to visit is far higher among the 15-24 and 35-44 age groups: 33 per cent and 32 per cent respectively. A separate NOP/BBC poll published in January found that 67 per cent of seven- to 12-year-olds want to visit the Dome. These are incredibly positive figures for an event that has yet to receive dedicated marketing support.

However, there are still many myths about the Dome that need correcting. Those agreeing that “Britain is spending too much money on the Dome” cannot be aware that no taxpayers’ money is being used on the project.

The Dome is part-financed from the National Lottery through the Millennium Commission. Only 20 per cent of its budget is going towards the Dome. In addition, NMEC is raising 150m through private sponsorship, and has already clinched deals worth more than 125m. The Dome will also generate its own commercial revenue from ticket sales, catering and merchandising.

Another myth is that the Millennium Experience is just the Dome and a big opening night party. Wrong. NMEC and our sponsors are devoting over 50m to a national programme of events that will involve communities across the UK. This programme officially launches on March 5.

Just imagine reading the following headlines: “Dome welcomes its 14 millionth visitor”, and “Dome: we’re proud to be British!” A year ago these headlines would have been greeted with incredulity. But today they look less and less like fiction. The fact is 81 per cent want to mark the millennium. Come the end of 2000, we are confident the nation will be as proud of the way we marked the millennium as the rest of the world is envious. As we close the Dome’s doors for the last time, the doubters will have been confounded.

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