Some weird weather and recursions of winter notwithstanding, it appears that Pontiac is at least on the trend to some warmer weather. While the evidence is not quite there as far as noticeable changes to the flora and fauna, there’s still another indication that the mercury is slowly but surely beginning to rise: the presence of tourists.
Pontiac Tourism Director Ellie Alexander said she’d noticed the uptick in tourists given the warmer weather, and that her department would begin making changes to hours and operations by April 1. However, Alexander believed that the most likely source of tourists at the moment come from within the state.
“I haven’t looked at the numbers from last March, but some of what happened with January and February I think is probably a reflection on the weather issues,” she said. “But I’ve noticed that there have been quite a few lately. I don’t think it’s anything all that unusual — surely by the middle of May, it’s full on. But every month now is going to see more and more people coming in.”
Alexander said by April, Pontiac Tourism will begin preparation for the city’s peak tourism season, noting that as the month that the Pontiac Jolly Trolley will begin operations. She also said that on April 1, the hours of operation within the museums changed from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., to 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“When we first opened the museums, they were open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.,” she said. “As the demand grew, where more and more people started coming, we needed to stay open longer. I think the first year, we probably had less than 3,000 people — now, we’re at more than 25,000 people signing into the book.
“So with that, we made sure that we extended the hours, because it’s really important especially for people, especially those who’ve travelled really far, that they don’t pull into town to a bunch of locked doors.”
But before that April shift, Alexander said that often on nicer days, the city will receive a fair share of tourists, as well.
“If it’s a sunnier day out, we will see more people, maybe from 50 miles or 100 miles away, come through here, maybe on motorcycles,” she said. “I’ve already seen them out on motorcycles, so that will be kind of pick up as we get into warmer weather.”
Alexander noted that outside of peak tourism season, Illinoisans were actually the largest subset of visitors: in January, for instance, she said that 228 people who signed into the museums were from Illinois, while there were only 59 visitors from other states and 41 tourists from overseas.
“That’s a pretty typical January, because those that want to go out and take a family trip might decide to come through here,” she said. “We do a tremendous amount all year round, actually, with people who are from the Chicagoland area, and our city is just a great way for them to spend a weekend.”