Published: December 3, 2002
SHELBURNE, VT. – Shelburne Museum experienced a nine percent increase in visitation in 2002 as compared to 2001.
The museum was open April 13 to October 27 in 2002, and all but one month of the season showed an increase in attendance over the corresponding months of 2001. Reasons contributing to the increase include a popular special exhibition of recreational vehicles, “American Wanderlust: Taking to the Road in the Twentieth Century,” a longer-than-usual fall foliage season, and a post-September 11 tourism climate more conducive to short-haul driving vacations.
The “American Wanderlust” RV exhibition, which featured 15 RVs from 1920 to the present, proved to be a hit with audiences of all types — but particularly with local audiences, which made up the largest segment of Shelburne Museum’s audience. Vermont visitation to the museum in 2002 was 23 percent higher than in 2001 and 42 percent higher in the month of June when “American Wanderlust” opened.
The ramifications of the events of September 11, 2001, on 2002 tourism were felt throughout Vermont, and Shelburne Museum was no exception. While group tours and long-haul visitation from places such as California and the United Kingdom were flat or saw declines, points of origin in New England and the Mid-Atlantic produced noticeable increases. This trend affirms a Vermont Department of Tourism estimate at the beginning of the year that post-September 11 travel trends would lean more towards driving vacations to destinations associated with safety and serenity.
The unexpectedly delayed peak foliage period contributed to an overall 11 percent increase in attendance during the month of October. The last two weeks of the month saw a significantly higher number of tourists traveling in couples or small groups that are more able to make impulsive decisions to visit Vermont for the weekend than are bus tours.
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