International tourists visit Massachusetts in record numbers
Karl and Antje Telgenbüscher waited a long time before visiting Plimoth Plantation. “Not so many years ago, the euro was very weak,” said Karl, a former history teacher, as the German couple visited the site’s 1627 English Village.
The Telgenbüschers waited until they could get more U.S. bucks for their euro.
“We knew now was the time,” he said, and they booked tickets to the States from Berlin.
Massachusetts historical attractions are getting more international tourists than ever before, according to the state travel and tourism office.
The increase is aiding a steady recovery after a decline because of Sept. 11, said state Office of Travel and Tourism Executive Director Betsy Wall.
Most international tourists to the state come from Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan and Ireland, said Wall.
Fifteen percent more Canadians and 4 percent more Europeans have visited Massachusetts this year compared to last year, she said.
Excluding Canadians, 1.1 million international visitors visited the state in 2007, up 6 percent from the previous year.
Many tourists also came from the Netherlands, Italy and France. The state is expecting more Japanese tourists next year, Wall added.
“We have an aggressive marketing campaign to capitalize on favorable exchange rates,” Wall said.
International tourists are an important source of revenue at Plimoth Plantation.
The 52,000 people who visited from abroad since last June contributed 13 percent of the site’s revenue. It’s 6 percent more than the previous year and up 54 percent from five years ago, Plimoth Plantation officials said.
Inoue Miyaki, 64, of Japan was glad her two-week South Shore tour included Plimoth Plantation.
“This is the start of the development of America,” said Miyaki, who caught the 100th anniversary celebration of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” at the Boston Pops that week, and was headed to the Mayflower II next.
Another woman on the tour, Hisako Fukushima, 66, of Tokyo, was one of the few in the 24-person group who had been to Plymouth before.
“Fifteen years ago I came here and it’s just as beautiful now,” Fukushima said near a Wampanoag woman sewing mooseskin shoes.
Discover Quincy estimated foreign tourists made up 15 percent of its visitors overall.
The tourism organization said it received more requests for information from abroad this year than ever before.
“Just today, my administrative assistant sent out 1,000 brochures to Canada, Ireland, Germany and Japan,” Executive Director Mark Carey said.
In the past, the requests for information about Discover Quincy had been “just dozens here and there,” he said.
“We’ve come quantum leaps and the reason is obvious: the weak dollar,” Carey said.
At Adams National Historical Park in Quincy, the number of foreign tourists has consistently been about 10 percent of the total, officials said.
Even if the dollar gets stronger, many international visitors may still come to the sites, some visitors at Plimoth Plantation said.
“My nephew needed to come to this very important place to learn the history of America,” said Andrew Kim, who was visiting from Seoul, South Korea.
Abbie Swanson is at firstname.lastname@example.org.