Museum visitor numbers decline

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    Visitor host Brent Coats outside the Southland Museum & Art Gallery.

    THE number of people visiting the Southland Museum & Art Gallery has declined, while the number of visitors to the Southland region continues to grow.

    Museum visitor numbers were down 11,430, a drop of first three quarters of the current financial year compared with the same three quarters of the previous financial year, Invercargill City Council museum manager Paul Horner said.

    despite an 8% rise in year-to-year visitor expenditure in Southland, according to a Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment estimate.

    About 239,000 visitors had visited the museum so far this financial year, with a month left to go, compared with about 248,000 visitors last financial year, Mr Horner said.

    The museum did not survey visitors, “so it’s possible the number of tourists has increased and the number of local visitors has decreased. Also, a lot of tourists may be going to other places, so we’re not particularly concerned. We had a high number of visitors last year, probably due to our art exhibits,” he said.

    However, museum visitor numbers for the past four financial years (since 2012-13) had increased year-on-year, and this was the first time since the 2011-12 financial year that museum visitor numbers had shown a decline.

    Mr Horner said about 85% of people visiting the museum also went through the gal lery, so numbers weren’t just a case of people popping in to use the toilets.operations manager Hannah Whyte said Bill Richardson Transport World Museum visitor numbers had been consistent.

    Classic Motorcycle Mecca hadn’t proved as popular with visitors since its opening in November 2016 as Transport World, but the Mecca hadn’t “cannibalised” numbers from Transport World, Mrs

    Both Transport World and Motorcycle Mecca had about a 16% increase visitors this summer compared with the previous summer, Mrs Whyte said.

    Mecca had a combined visitor total of about 80,000, with visitor numbers and other visitor-related information collated from ticket sales.

    About 20% of visitors were local, about 50% were New Zealanders from outside Southland and about 30% were from overseas, she said.

    The Otago Daily Times reported last year the Otago Museum’s visitor numbers had increased 21% for the financial year ending June 2016 over the previous financial year (366,642 from 302,938).

    Otago Museum marketing director Caroline Cook said the increase was attributed to the opening of the new planetarium and while the museum was “tracking pretty close to last year’s figures”, she didn’t expect to see such a large jump again.

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