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Port Arthur notches up milestone

PORT Arthur Historic Site celebrated a milestone last Wednesday.

The popular tourist attraction proved to be just that – beating its own record for the highest number of tourists for one day.

Coincidently the previous record was set on the same date last year.

We talked to Member Maria Stacey and Delegate Rob Tymms about the busy tourist season.

Read more below.

 

Visitor Services Manager Maria Stacey talked to us about the record and current tourist season at the site.

“We’re travelling really well year to-date,” Maria said. “We had a record day last week when we had a cruise ship in. With these visitors plus other tourist through the door we cracked 4000. So that’s a pretty big day.

“Days like that are always a buzz. They are exciting days, even though they are so busy.

“Because it’s a big place, and once tourists have moved through the visitor centre and dispersed, it is generally quite calm, even on the busiest of days.

“On cruise ship days, not only do we do our normal program, we have people at the jetty to manage people getting on and off the ship, we also offer additional tours to the cruise ship passengers. We have an experience called ‘Behind the Scenes’, which is a specialised tour involving some of our conservation professionals. They take visitors and talk not only about the history of the place but how we manage it today, and areas like archaeology. We also take people to the coal mines on the other side of the Peninsula.”

In general numbers are well and truly up at the site this summer so far.

In December, we were 4.5% up on visitor numbers from the previous December. So far in January as of Monday (January 12) we were travelling at just over 8% of last January, with 1700 people more than this time last year. So numbers are definitely up. In January we’re geared up to look after about 2000 visitors on any given day, and we’ve also cracked that a few times and gone beyond that this year.”

Maria was working on the record day and said although it was busy, it was planned and organised for. “We’ve got a pretty good system now. We know when they’re coming! We’ve learnt what we need to do over the years, and have extra people here on days we know will be busy. We have an extra booth and someone working at the door so we can triage, as we call it, people who’ve pre-paid.”

Maria said all employees worked together as one team. “A big site like this, we all really do need to work together as well.”

 

There’s no sign of a slowdown, with the long awaited penitentiary opening next Wednesday, as is a booth on the new Brooke St Pier.

 

Delegate and Guide Rob Tymms said the increase in numbers was noticeable from his point of view.

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Anecdotally our harbour tours, Point Puer and the Isle of the Dead, are just flying, “Rob said.

For our permanent guides we have a number of different shifts around the site. Anecdotally, people seem to be coming a little bit later in the day.

“As a guide, it’s lovely to have a fair old crowd in front of you; you get a real vibe from that. At the moment there’s so much happening around the site that you’re consciously always thinking ‘right, I have to finish this at this time so visitors can then get to this’, it’s like a big jigsaw puzzle. On the  other end, it’s also nice in the quieter times to have a bit of extra time to talk to tourists as well.”

CPSU covers PAHS employees who work in a variety of roles at the site in:

• Visitor Services;

• Conservation;

• The site’s gift shop;

• Tour Guides;

• Administration; and

• Building Works.

 

Congratulations to all Port Arthur Members who work hard around the year to provide amazing experience tourists are scrambling to have.

Staff and guides speaking a foreign language, mostly Mandarin are also proving a hit with tourists.

Our foreign language visitors are just delighted to have someone who they can talk with.

Often our Members work outside ‘normal’ work hours to do this work, and at times when a lot of Tasmanians are enjoying their summer holidays.

 

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