“Visitor numbers this year are an exact match with 2008’s figures,” says “chief gorilla” Tristram Mayhew, who set up Go Ape in 2001. “That seems to be flying in the face of the economy, where everybody else is ten per cent down.”
But he’s still adding new touches to entice his two target audiences: twenty-somethings with no dependants; and families with teenage children. He’s just launched the “gorilla cam” – a bomb and shock-proof digital camera which sits in a holster, allowing visitors to film themselves swinging from trees.
“It costs £15 and is very James Bond-like,” says Mayhew. “Customers can load their films onto YouTube. We’ll even be running our own Go Ape Oscars. Yes, the ‘stay-cation’ [the opposite of a vacation] is good for business but my gut instinct is that we’re going to have to work harder on getting customers to come back.”