Jamestown tourism drops, officials suspect flooding, weather have affectJAMESTOWN — The number of visitors to the Buffalo City is down this year compared to last year, but tourism officials still aren’t frowning. “The numbers of people visiting is down, but it’s not drastic, and when I visit with people across the state everyone is experiencing the same thing,” said Nina Sneider, executive director of the Buffalo City Tourism Foundation.
By: Ben Rodgers , The Dickinson Press
JAMESTOWN — The number of visitors to the Buffalo City is down this year compared to last year, but tourism officials still aren’t frowning.
“The numbers of people visiting is down, but it’s not drastic, and when I visit with people across the state everyone is experiencing the same thing,” said Nina Sneider, executive director of the Buffalo City Tourism Foundation.
Frontier Village visitors number is about 100,000 at this time of the year, which is 72 percent of the number of visitors last year.
Sneider said to keep in mind 2010 was a banner year for tourism with close to 175,000 visitors at Frontier Village. At this time last year there were 139,000 visitors.
“I’m not a bit unhappy with the numbers,” she said. “If we can stay consistently above the 100,000 mark we’re doing very well.”
She blames the decrease in visitors on weather and water.
Heavy rains or storms on the horizon keep visitors traveling through on Interstate 94 from pulling in for a stop.
Having Pelican Point Campground underwater isn’t helping either.
“Economic-impact wise, it’s going to hurt a lot,” Sneider said. “That Pelican Point Campground is down.”
Travelers who would normally rent a campsite, buy their food and fill up their vehicles aren’t stopping as much in Jamestown this year.
“A lot of our guests ask if we are flooded and the reason they ask is because they see in the news Minot, Bismarck, Fargo, Valley City, and they think the whole state is flooded,” she said. “It could be that perception alone has slowed our traffic.”
Special events like drag racing, White Cloud’s birthday and KiteFest still maintain their numbers. It’s the everyday traffic that’s down, Sneider said.
Tour bus traffic, however, is up to Frontier Village and the National Buffalo Museum, she said.
“It sure seems like there are quite a few more buses this year,” said Felicia Sargeant, director of the National Buffalo Museum.
Mature adults touring the country make up plenty of the bus stops at the museum, but Sargeant said she’s seen bus riders of all ages.
Admission to the museum is up 8 percent though July with 14,874 visitors compared to 13,715 through July of last year.
But gift shops sales at the same time are down slightly.
It’s the same story at the Kirkpatrick Gallery, where local artisans showcase their work and volunteer their time to sell it to visitors.
On a good Thursday afternoon Rosemary Gasal, who paints watercolors, will visit with more than 50 people. Some from other states tell her of their home’s economic woes.
“The traffic isn’t that bad. But people aren’t buying like they used to,” Gasal said.
Rodgers is a reporter at the Jamestown Sun, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.