Successful conservation works on the Penitentiary, winning two national tourism awards and strong visitation growth across its sites were just three highlights of a busy year for the Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority (PAHSMA).
The results were recorded in the Authority’s Annual Report for 2014-15, which has been tabled in State Parliament.
Other achievements included establishing a sales and information outlet at Brooke St Pier, a sound financial result, a successful volunteer partnership with Community Volunteers Australia at the Coal Mines, a visit by the Chinese Foreign Affairs Minister, further strengthening of the relationship between PAHSMA and the Dunhuang Academy in China, and conservation works on the Matron’s Quarters at the Cascades Female Factory.
The Penitentiary conservation works necessitated the closure of the building, and its disappearance from view for the visitor, for a period of almost nine months. Despite this, according to PAHSMA Chair Professor Sharon Sullivan, there was little negative impact on or feedback from visitors.
“The Authority and its staff were very grateful for the understanding and support shown by visitors during this period, and did our best to ensure that visitors had alternative ways of appreciating this great building.”
“In January the building was reopened to the public. The work was carried out by a great team who designed and implemented the stabilisation that represented cutting-edge technology and design, and has already won a number of awards for heritage conservation and project management.”
Two major Australian Tourism Awards is an achievement of which the Authority and its staff are justifiably proud.
“These awards are especially important to the Board and staff of PAHSMA, whose policy and practice is that conservation and tourism go hand-in-hand, and indeed enhance each other. Our increasing visitor numbers at all three sites, and the visitor feedback commending our efforts, continue to support this approach,” said Professor Sullivan.
The year saw healthy growth in visitor numbers, with 272,653 daytime visitors coming to the Port Arthur Historic Site and 28,663 visiting the Cascades Female Factory Historic Site. Both are all-time records and reflect a 7.7% increase on the previous year at Port Arthur and 22% at the Female Factory.
Ghost Tour numbers also increased by 1.03% on the previous year with 34,097 participating in this popular night time activity. PAHSMA continues to manage visitation to the Coal Mines employing a low-profile approach, while recording 13,450 visitors for the year.
Chinese visitors continued to visit Port Arthur in ever-growing numbers. PAHSMA’s ‘China Ready Program’ has done much to accommodate them, including the employment of Mandarin speaking guides.
Preparations commenced during the year for the 20th anniversary of the Port Arthur Massacre, which will occur in April 2016 and will be a poignant and challenging time for many people closely affected by this tragic event. PAHSMA has formed a working group to liaise with appropriate stakeholders in organising a fitting commemoration for this significant anniversary.
The 2014-15 PAHSMA Annual Report is available from portarthur.org.au/research/publications-annual-report