TripAd­vi­sor love for tun­nel

The Recorder & Times (Brockville) - - FRONT PAGE - RON­ALD ZAJAC

Brockville’s rail­way tun­nel may not be get­ting all the dol­lars yet, but users of a pop­u­lar travel site have been giv­ing it plenty of stars.

The down­town at­trac­tion has earned a 2018 Cer­tifi­cate of Ex­cel­lence from TripAd­vi­sor, “for the con­sis­tent achieve­ment of high ratings from trav­ellers.”

And it’s not the only at­trac­tion in town to be hon­oured by the travel web­site. Of­fi­cials at the Aquatar­ium con­firmed that venue has also re­ceived a Cer­tifi­cate of Ex­cel­lence.

Staff at the Brockville Arts Cen­tre noted that at­trac­tion has re­ceived a cer­tifi­cate in the past.

TripAd­vi­sor, on which accommodations and attractions are rated by con­sumers, notes on its site the cer­tifi­cate of ex­cel­lence “is pre­sented to ap­prox­i­mately 10 per cent of to­tal busi­nesses on TripAd­vi­sor that have con­sis­tently achieved great re­views over the past year.”

To qual­ify, the site adds, a venue must main­tain an over­all TripAd­vi­sor rat­ing of at least four out of five; have a min­i­mum num­ber of re­views; and have been listed on TripAd­vi­sor for at least twelve months.

“To de­ter­mine Cer­tifi­cate of Ex­cel­lence re­cip­i­ents, we use a va­ri­ety of user-gen­er­ated con­tent ,” TripAd­vi­sor adds. “We use an al­go­rithm that pri­mar­ily takes into ac­count the qual­ity, quan­tity, and re­cency of user re­views, as well as the busi­ness’ tenure on the site.”

Re­cip­i­ents are an­nounced once a year in late May.

Keith Hare, a vol­un­teer with the Brockville Rail­way Tun­nel Com­mit­tee spe­cial­iz­ing in IT, said the group listed the tun­nel be­fore its mid-Au­gust open­ing.

It seems that, even in the some­what re­stricted time frame, plenty of tun­nel-walk­ers took the time to give the tun­nel pos­i­tive TripAd­vi­sor ratings.

“We were con­sis­tently hit­ting four or five stars,” said Hare.

As of Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon, the tun­nel en­try on TripAd­vi­sor had 260 re­views and an over­all rat­ing of 4.5 out of five.

“Had fam­ily vis­it­ing on a hot week­end, re­ally en­joyed the cooler air,” wrote one re­viewer from Prescott.

“Very sur­prised about the his­tory plates along the route, plus the light­ing and mu­sic. This is a must see.”

“A quick walk into a cool place fig­u­ra­tively and lit­er­ally on a hot day,” adds an Ot­tawa re­viewer.

“Lime­stone fea­tures from wa­ter run­ning into the tun­nel over a cen­tury are fas­ci­nat­ing and the light­ing is A+.”

The site also lists the tun­nel as num­ber one of 44 things to do in Brockville.

Other “things to do” in­clude the Brockville Arts Cen­tre (sec­ond place with 110 re­views), Ful­ford Place (third with 123) and the Aquatar­ium (fourth with 170 re­views).

Over at the Aquatar­ium, man­ager of pub­lic re­la­tions Sarah Latur­nus said its cer­tifi­cate ar­rived in the mail Tues­day.

“We are ec­static with the news of our TripAd­vi­sor Award of Ex­cel­lence for 2018,” she wrote in an email.

“The fact that our re­views on TripAd­vi­sor are con­stantly pos­i­tive means that we are per­form­ing at and above the ex­pec­ta­tions of our vis­i­tors.”

Coun. David LeSueur, who spear­headed the tun­nel project on city coun­cil and un­til re­cently headed the tun­nel com­mit­tee, was pleased with the lat­est news.

“That just seems to con­tinue to grow, as far as the suc­cess of it all,” he said.

“They’re com­ing from all over the world.”

In­ter­na­tional ex­po­sure has, in fact, brought peo­ple from other coun­tries through the tun­nel.

David Duc, co-owner of the Sir Isaac Brock Bed and Break­fast, said a cou­ple from Britain stay­ing at his busi­ness in May came to Brockville be­cause the tun­nel was listed on a BBC travel show.

“They in­cor­po­rated Brockville as one of their stopovers as a re­sult be­cause he was kind of a rail­way buff,” said Duc.

The tun­nel’s suc­cess has been marred by some bad news on the fi­nan­cial side. It was re­vealed ear­lier this year that the project’s first phase left be­hind an un­ex­pected deficit of $2.1 mil­lion, which must now be re­cov­ered through fundrais­ing.

LeSueur, whose res­ig­na­tion from the tun­nel com­mit­tee was among the re­sults of that rev­e­la­tion, said coun­cil ex­pects to look at an au­di­tor’s re­port on the tun­nel’s fi­nances be­fore the end of the month.

The coun­cil­lor echoed re­marks made last week by out­go­ing Mayor David Hen­der­son, not­ing the fi­nan­cial prob­lems will prove to be a pass­ing chal­lenge.

“I think the tun­nel’s go­ing to do well for decades,” said LeSueur.

“It’s go­ing to be our unique fea­ture.”

Eileen Ling, whose name is on a donor plaque at the tun­nel en­trance, had sim­i­lar thoughts as she walked through the tun­nel Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon with her daugh­ter-in-law.

“I’m so sad what hap­pened,” she said.

“I’m sure that it’ll take care of it­self.”

Mean­while, as it also con­tin­ues to rack up pos­i­tive re­views, the Aquatar­ium will also be the sub­ject of a re­port on its fi­nan­cial trou­bles, ex­pected later this sum­mer.

RON­ALD ZAJAC/BROCKVILLE RECORDER AND TIMES

Eileen Ling, left, and her daugh­ter-in-law Danielle Ling walk through Brockville's rail­way tun­nel on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon.

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