Before spring arrived, organizers had completed their most aggressive domestic and international marketing outreach and added hundreds of new programs to existing attractions, setting the stage for what they hoped would be a spectacular tourism season in communities south of Boston. But success would have to wait, as tourism became an ancillary afterthought in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings in April.
But as the first half of the tourism season winds down, local officials said, the number of visitors is nearly on par with last year’s figures, thanks in part to a marketing blitz that led to an uptick in international visitors and so-called day-trippers.
Pictured: People stand around the railing looking down at Plymouth rock. Next
While tour group cancellations after the bombings and the poor weather in May contributed to the slow start, the absence of Plimoth Plantation’s main attraction, the Mayflower II, also discouraged visitors, spokeswoman Sarah Macdonald said. The replica of the 17th-century ship that brought the Pilgrims to Plymouth was undergoing unexpected but urgent repairs that kept it away from its berth on the Plymouth waterfront through most of the summer.
Pictured: People look at the Mayflower ll. Next
“We definitely have momentum. We’re seeing business come back slowly, but it’s coming back,” Plymouth County Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director Paul Cripps said. “If not for the compounding factors, we would’ve had a banner year. Instead we’re looking at having a very good year overall.”
Pictured: The annual King Richard's Faire is held every weekend through October 20. A knight rides his horse onto the tournament field for a jousting championship, as hundreds watch.. Next
In Hull, which relies heavily on the summer months for its tourism season, there has been an increase in hotel reservations and restaurant visits this year, said Corinne Leung, treasurer at the Hull Nantasket Chamber of Commerce.
Denis Hanks, executive director of the Plymouth Area Chamber of Commerce, said that promoting Plymouth, the largest magnet for visitors on the South Shore, helps tourism in the entire region, which benefits from the spillover effect.
Pictured: The annual King Richard's Faire is held every weekend through October 20. A knight loses his armor after being struck during a jousting championship. Next
Plymouth planning and development director Lee Hartmann hopes the efforts will pay off this fall for such perennial attractions as King Richard’s Faire in Carver, increasingly popular cranberry harvest tours, and, of course, Thanksgiving.
“That’s our holiday,” he said.
Pictured: The Washing Well Wenches perform before a crowd at King Richard’s Faire. Next
Paula Fisher, the marketing director at the Plymouth County bureau, said the next two months are crucial to the area’s tourism industry because they have the capability of generating as much, if not more, revenue than the spring and summer months combined.
Pictured: A crowd watches a sword fight over a woman at the annual fair in Carver. Next
Operators of fall-dependent attractions, such as Jeff LaFleur, grower and owner at Mayflower Cranberries in Plympton, and Bonnie Shapiro, founder and producer of King Richard’s Faire, said they are hoping for good weather and some of that Boston spillover.
Pictured: King Richard is entertained at the start of the Faire. Next
Shapiro, overseeing a festival that convenes on weekends and holiday Mondays from Labor Day to Columbus Day, said she had one of her best seasons last year, and is hoping her recent partnership with the Plymouth County tourism agency widens the Renaissance fair’s appeal among both local and international visitors.
Pictured: Costumed faire-goers watch the Washing Well Wenches show. Next
Cripps, head of the visitors bureau, said if the weather holds up, the region will be able to recover from the slow start to the tourism season.
“The ship is back, the cranberry harvest is coming, the leaves are changing, we have the parade before Thanksgiving, and then Thanksgiving,” he said. “So we expect a very successful season in comparison to last year.”
Pictured: Visitors don waders and help harvest cranberries in the bogs at Mayflower Cranberries in Plympton. Back to the beginning
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below