It was to be expected that the Historic Dockyard would see a jump in visitor numbers after the opening of the Mary Rose Museum last year, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not excellent news that the figures almost doubled.
The opening of the Mary Rose Museum made headlines around the world on that first day, filled as it was with a suitable amount of pageantry, and it’s clear it’s now pulling in people from around the world – and the country – too.
Now, to add to this success story, as we report today there are three major attractions being opened up to the public this week.
Regular readers of The News will know that the Hear My Story installation and the restoration of HMS Alliance have been a long time in the planning. And both, as can be seen today, look like they have been well worth the wait – if the pun can be excused, the immersive experience of Alliance, giving an idea of what it was like to dive in a submarine, and the poignant recollections within Hear My Story look fascinating, and as if they will hold up to repeated visits.
We know that the days of people taking fortnight-long holidays in Southsea are pretty much over, but we need as many attractions as possible in Portsmouth and the area to bring in the day-trippers and people after city breaks.
We’re not an area that can depend on tourism but we certainly have a lot to offer – and to benefit from – and every new feature at the dockyard can only help this.
And we don’t accept the point that emphasising heritage has to be to the exclusion of looking to the future. We can celebrate our history and simultaneous fight for the city’s shipyard to be kept open to preserve the kind of skills that the historic dockyard records.
So after the bonanza of 2013, let’s hope that we can see another leap in figures in a year’s time.
And also, let us not forget that while we’re glad to see more people heading to the city for the dockyard, that it is not just a destination for tourists.
It’s a vital part of understanding what makes this city tick and should be a point of pride for everyone living in Portsmouth.