Pagham Harbour’s RSPB Nature Reserve is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the South East, figures have revealed.
The reserve, which is largely run by volunteers, was the sixth most visited free tourist attraction across the whole of the region in 2017, according to the latest research by Visit Britain.
With an estimated 269,420 visitors, the reserve is thought to have drawn in more tourists than the New Forest Centre after an increase in visitor numbers of nearly 30 per cent year on year.
Roy Newnham, visitor experience officer at the reserve, said he was ‘really pleased’ and said there had been notable improvements made since early 2017.
He said: “We’ve been working to develop it into the best place possible for nature whilst offering people an opportunity to experience the site in all its wonder.
“The site is special as it offers a unique mix of beautiful coastal landscapes, rich historic heritage and is a lovely wildlife haven all year round – we’ve even had owls and rare turtle doves sitting out the front of the visitor centre.
“Over the last year, the reserve has really blossomed and we are very proud of the developments that have taken place – we now have improved disability access, a new pond and our Discovery Zone has had a major uplift with a new wildflower meadow, a bee bank and an outdoor classroom shelter, all thanks to support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Sussex Ornithological Society, the Friends of Pagham Harbour and our members.
“We are really pleased to be able to offer a great place for visitors to discover nature and enjoy themselves.”
He said the centre was now looking to offer a day of free events in June, hosted by Mike Dilger from the One Show, and a range of creative workshops.
“You don’t have to be a birdwatcher to come here and enjoy it,” he said.