THERE WILL be no 'walk up' entry to this year's Royal Highland Show – despite disquiet amongst its members, the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland has reiterated that both show tickets and car parking spots must be booked in advance.

In recent weeks, supporters of the Highland Show have been questioning this new ticketing policy, on both social media and on The Scottish Farmer's own letters page, with some warning that the change will alienate both farmers and the general public, many of whom decide on the day whether they will attend the Ingliston event.

In particular, members have expressed concern that while they have been well warned of the new rules at the gate, the society cannot hope to get that information out to all the show's potential 'family day' visitors.

Responding to this criticism, RHASS chief executive Alan Laidlaw issued a statement saying that the changes were necessary due to the 'far reaching' impacts of the Covid pandemic – and stressing that the new arrangements would allow the society 'to respond quickly and efficiently if required'.

“Tickets will not be available to purchase at the gate of this year’s Royal Highland show as tickets and parking must be pre-booked in advance," said Mr Laidlaw. "This is to enable RHASS to effectively manage numbers on each day and ensure the safety of visitors and staff.

“The benefit of purchasing entry and carparking tickets for specific days in advance will ensure visitors can secure their spot for their preferred day of the show, but only if they buy early. We know that this year’s RHS is expected to be a sell-out with huge demand for tickets due to the cancellation of the show in the previous two years.

Read more: Royal Highland Show calls for livestock and equestrian entries

“A comprehensive communications plan is in place to give show goers plenty of advance warning of this important change," he insisted. "RHASS members can still attend the show as normal, but can help us greatly by advising in advance which days they wish to attend. This is to manage numbers and allow the Society to sell days members can’t join us for the benefit of the charity.“

He continued: “Nobody likes changes, especially to long standing events such as the RHS, but the impact of the pandemic is far reaching and we need to make important changes which will allow us to respond quickly and efficiently if required. A pre-purchasing system is simple to use and will ensure our visitors are protected and enjoy a safe show.

“We are delighted that we can maintain our accompanied children 15 and under can attend for free but again these tickets must be booked in advance," added Mr Laidlaw. “Generally we have had a positive response with people understanding the need for the change. A recent surge in membership reflects the benefit of being a RHASS member with free entry to the show – we welcome this and are very much looking forward to announcing some new and exciting attractions over the coming months as we near the 200th anniversary of the RHS.”