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