The chairman of Scotland’s largest agricultural organisation – the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS) – says it is not going to abandon its membership.
The comments from RHASS chairman Bill Gray come in the wake of criticism for the society after it confirmed all tickets for its flagship event – the Royal Highland Show – must be purchased in advance.
RHASS has also confirmed a daily attendance limit of 50,000 people to the event, which takes place at Ingliston near Edinburgh on June 23-26, and its members have been asked to pre-confirm their attendance at the show by today.
Mr Gray said any members who failed to arrange their tickets – which are complimentary each year as part of their membership of RHASS – before the May 18 deadline will be given extra time to arrange their tickets.
However, they are advised to confirm which days they plan to attend as soon as possible because some days are already looking like they will sell out.
Not going to leave members in the lurch
“We are not going to abandon our membership,” said Mr Gray.
“And the ability to buy tickets will be available right up until the show if there are tickets available.”
RHASS chief executive, Alan Laidlaw, echoed this and said: “We are not going to leave our members in the lurch.
“Despite one or two people being quite vociferous about it we have had 8,000 people confirm [their tickets].”
He said knowing that members did not require their tickets for certain days would enable the society to then sell those tickets to others who wished to attend, and said the process was designed to safeguard the future of the show rather than prohibit RHASS members.
Mr Laidlaw added: “The message is as members your tickets are reserved and we are just asking you to help us with the process; it’s as simple as that.
“You don’t turn up at Murrayfield without a ticket even if you are a [rugby club] member.”
RHASS head of operations, Mark Currie, said: “Based on our sales pattern for 2019 and where we are now, there’s a high chance we will sell out on the Friday and Saturday.
“You might not be able to buy a ticket [on the day] for the first time so we are asking people to buy their tickets before we sell out.”
He said the 50,000 daily visitor limit was not a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and RHASS had been considering introducing a visitor limit for the 2020 show due to the showground infrastructure being tested at points on the Saturday of the 2019 event.
Mr Currie added: “All the changes are done to protect the show.”