At­trac­tions see strong sum­mer tourism num­bers

The Drumheller Mail - - AROUND TOWN - Pa­trick Ko­lafa

Af­ter a record-shat­ter­ing 2017 at the Royal Tyrrell Mu­seum, this sum­mer the mu­seum con­tin­ued to see strong at­ten­dance.

Last sum­mer was the best ever for the Royal Tyrrell Mu­seum, spurred along by its new ex­hibit Grounds for Dis­cov­ery, dis­play­ing the many Al­berta fos­sil finds at in­dus­trial sites. This in­cluded ex­ten­sive cov­er­age of the dis­play of the Bo­re­alopelta, one of the best pre­served ar­mored di­nosaurs dis­cov­ered.

This year the mu­seum fol­lowed closely in those tracks.

“We are down only very slightly from last sum­mer and def­i­nitely well over the five-year av­er­age,” says Elaine Secord, head of the mar­ket­ing and pub­lic re­la­tions at the Tyrrell. “So it was a very strong sum­mer, very well at­tended.”

In Au­gust alone, there was al­most 122,000 vis­i­ta­tions. From May to Au­gust, there were more than 335,000 vis­i­tors.

She adds there were very good par­tic­i­pa­tion num­bers in the pro­gram­ming of­fered at the mu­seum and the Science Camp con­tin­ued to post ex­cel­lent at­ten­dance.

Jes­sica Jeninga, di­rec­tor of vis­i­tor ser­vices at the At­las Coal Mine Na­tional His­toric Site says while their vis­i­ta­tion was down a lit­tle bit, their rev­enues were up. Their re­sults re­flect their abil­ity to tar­get their au­di­ence.

“This year one of the big projects we have done is look­ing into who our de­mo­graph­ics are and ex­actly what we can do to cater to that. Part of the rea­son I think we have been suc­cess­ful this sum­mer is that the At­las Coal Mine of­fers some­thing a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent and it is more of an ad­ven­tur­ous ex­pe­ri­ence,” she said.

Through the At­las’ re­search, they have learned their largest vis­i­tor­ship comes from adults or cou­ples un­der the age of 65 with­out chil­dren.

“Not to pull any hot-but­ton words, but for some­thing like ‘mil­len­ni­als’ we know what they are look­ing for in tourism is some­thing much more expe- ri­en­tial, some­thing that when they get there they feel like they are truly do­ing some­thing spe­cial,” said Jeninga.

“More than a lot of other dif­fer­ent mu­se­ums or her­itage sites, The At­las Coal Mine, I be­lieve re­ally is spe­cial. Peo­ple come, they go on an ad­ven­ture, they wear the hat, they are un­der­ground and we fo­cus a lot on the story telling which makes peo­ple truly feel the ex­pe­ri­ence they are at.”

The At­las is wind­ing down for the sea­son, although Jeninga notes this time of year they are see­ing many in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors.

“We are such an out­door site that a lot of the site is not ac­ces­si­ble as soon as snow hits, so we are still aim­ing to do tours un­til thanks­giv­ing long week­end and then af­ter that, a visit by do­na­tion only,” said Jeninga.

The Tyrrell re­mains busy es­pe­cially as con­struc­tion con­tin­ues on its ex­pan­sion project that is ex­pected to open next spring.

“The mu­seum is a big eco­nomic driver in the mix of the cul­tural fa­cil­i­ties run by the Al­berta gov­ern­ment and so this ex­pan­sion that is be­ing co-funded by the fed­eral and pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ments is just go­ing to sup­port and en­hance the ameni­ties we can of­fer to our vis­i­tors and en­hance that ex­pe­ri­ence even fur­ther,” said Secord.

The Tyrrell is mak­ing the tran­si­tion into their fall sea­son. Fall pro­gram­ming is con­tin­u­ing for the pub­lic into the month of Septem­ber and we are gear­ing up for the school pro­gram sea­son and the camp-in pro­grams start in Oc­to­ber,” said Secord.

mailpho­toby Pa­trick Ko­lafa

Lo­cal at­trac­tions in Drumheller set some im­pres­sive num­bers for vis­i­tor­ship this past sum­mer.

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