It was a recipe for tourism trouble - record summertime heat, higher fuel prices and a struggling economy. Despite those factors, Gail Bryant, director of the Hannibal Convention & Visitors Bureau, is reporting that tourism increased in Hannibal during 2012.
“We once again broke records in some months with lodging numbers, meaning that hotels and B&Bs were full,” said Bryant.
Bryant is not surprised that the number of visitors went up.
“I think Hannibal is an exciting place to visit. It has so much to offer. I think it’s a great experience for families and individuals,” she said. “I know the community and a lot of the civic organizations, everyone that welcomes our visitors worked hard and continues to work hard.”
Who are the people visiting America’s Hometown?
“We are showing a trend that people are staying more than one day, so it’s going to be your leisure travelers that find more things to see here in Hannibal,” said Bryant. “We’re finding more groups that are coming to see our different attractions.”
Counted among Hannibal’s attractions during the late summer and early fall were the American Queen and Queen of the Mississippi riverboats.
“We had people planning their trips just to see the riverboats,” said Bryant.
Both riverboats also brought tourists to Hannibal. The Queen of the Mississippi often stayed docked for an entire day, while the American Queen brought “steam coaches” down river, allowing passengers to visit a variety of sites around Hannibal.
The passengers’ impressions of the community were positive, according to Bryant.
“The feedback we received was the passengers certainly appreciated everyone welcoming them. The Chamber ambassadors, Tom and Becky, and a lot of residents came down to help us welcome them,” she said. “They also mentioned they just did not have enough time in Hannibal. They would like a longer layover here.”
Bryant has already received notification that the riverboats will be back this year. The American Queen will make its first appearance on Sunday, July 7. According to the American Cruise Lines’ Web site, the Queen of the Mississippi’s first scheduled excursion from St. Louis to St. Paul will begin July 6.
“They (riverboat visits) will start in July and go all the way through October,” she said. “I think that’s a sign they truly enjoyed and appreciated the hospitality.”
A potential new attraction in the historic district in 2013 is the proposed opening of the Moses Bates Mercantile & Pub at 422 N. Main St. Developer Bill Martin told the City Council on Tuesday that the “centerpiece” of the development will be a micro-brewery that he believes visitors will be interested in seeing. Bryant agrees.
Page 2 of 2 - “I think the presentation that was made at City Council sounds very exciting and I think it would certainly be an attraction for the visitors coming to Hannibal,” she said. “It will be one more thing to keep them even longer. It will certainly be a plus.”