The Prince of Wales visited Countryfile host Adam Henson’s Cotswold Farm Park ahead of its reopening this weekend.
Like hundreds of farm attractions, the park has been closed since the end of March, when the UK government placed the country in lockdown to control the spread of the coronavirus.
Attractions such as Cotswold Farm Park have lost visitor income while still meeting the usual costs of housing, feeding and caring for animals.
But the park will reopen to the public this Saturday (4 July), along with other English farm attractions, after 29 June in Scotland, 3 July in Northern Ireland and subsequently 6 July in Wales.
To ensure social distancing, visitors can expect a mix of additional measures including online tickets to control numbers, staggered arrival times to assist social distancing, and increased reminders to wash and sanitise hands throughout the visit.
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the farm attraction sector welcomed 25 million visitors annually, inspired 1.25 million schoolchildren on farm visits and generated more than £300m in turnover.
Return to parks
Prince Charles was keen to highlight the important work of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) in crucial conservation breeding programmes when he visited the park on Wednesday (1 July), and he encouraged visitors to return to farm parks when they reopen.
RBST is the national charity that works to secure the future of rare breed livestock and equines, and The Prince of Wales has been its patron since 1986.
Cotswold Farm Park is one of the 21 RBST-accredited farm parks that look after some of the UK’s most rare and critically endangered breeds of farm animals. The farm houses 20 rare breeds, including Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs.
Mr Henson said it was a “great honour” to welcome Prince Charles as the park prepares to reopen.
“His Royal Highness is incredibly knowledgeable about farming, food production and rural tourism; he voiced his encouragement that multi-generational families should get back out into the fresh air to enjoy everything that the countryside brings,” said Mr Henson.
“He was particularly impressed by our campsite and new sunset lodges and the importance of staycations to rural businesses.”
‘Support rare breeds’
Christopher Price, RBST chief executive, said: “The coming few months are going to be very difficult for farm parks, and as they make plans to reopen safely, we can all support them and the conservation of rare breeds by visiting as soon as we can and going back regularly throughout the year to watch the animals change and grow.”
“I am grateful to HRH The Prince of Wales for all his support for the survival of rare breed livestock and equines, and I thank Adam Henson and Cotswold Farm Park for hosting the visit.”