TOURISTS have blasted the new Stonehenge Visitor Centre for ruining Wiltshire’s ancient monument and said the new Stonehenge experience is a rip off.
Since the new £27m visitor centre opened four weeks ago, visitors have taken to review websites like Trip Advisor to complain about a range of problems, particularly the transport taking the tourists from the visitor centre to the stones and ticketing.
One reviewer called the centre a “monstrously ugly carbuncle” and said the whole place seems “devoid of character”, while another said “the whole experience feels like a scam”.
People reported having to queue for over an hour for the land train – three carriages pulled by a Land Rover – and those who braved the mile-and-a-half walk had to dodge the transport as there is no separate footpath.
With only two land trains, which can carry up to 45 people at a time, English Heritage has had to draft in coaches hired from local bus companies to pick up the slack, and concerns have been raised about how the site will cope in the busier summer months when thousands of people visit the World Heritage Site every day, with neither the car park or the transport to the stones looking able to meet demand.
Many people were also unimpressed that the entry fee had doubled in price with the opening of the new centre and said the ticket office was open to the elements in what is essentially a “wind tunnel”.
A couple from Barnstaple said: “This new attraction was over ten years in the planning, how could they have got it so wrong?”
Before the new visitor centre opened, ratings on Trip Advisor were consistently good for Stonehenge. But since the new centre opened the positive reviews have plunged to less than half and the negative reviews have risen to a third.
Kate Davies, Stonehenge’s general manager, admitted there had been some teething problems. “This is a brand new operation, on a completely different scale to the old visitor centre and naturally, during these early days, there have been some issues. But we are solving them – we have increased our shuttle service taking people to the stones and from February 1 our timed ticketing system will swing into place.
“The majority of feedback has been overwhelmingly positive; visitors have been fascinated by our new exhibition and love the sense that the stones are now reconnected with the wider landscape. We appreciate all the feedback and would ask people to be patient while we iron out the few remaining issues.”
She also said they had experienced numbers similar to peak summer season over the festive period, with 5,000 visitors on one day.