New Bedford ferry operators market city to Vineyard tourists

newsletter-110-6NEW BEDFORD — As Martha’s Vineyard gears up for the summer season, Seastreak ferry operators are hoping to boost ticket sales by offering a $50 “adventure pass” to lure tourists to the city on day trips.
“We were trying to find things … (that) would be geared to bringing people off the island to New Bedford,” said John Silvia, the operation manager of Seastreak Martha’s Vineyard, which he said sold 70,000 one-way tickets last year. The pass is targeted at island tourists and residents, he said.
“Once you’ve been on the island for a week, you’ve seen it,” he said. “There’s so many wonderful establishments in New Bedford that it would only make sense to send them here.”
Seastreak, which also runs ferry service in Manhattan and New Jersey, has been operating ferries between New Bedford and Martha’s Vineyard under the Seastreak name for about four years, Silvia said.
The New Bedford Adventure Pass, which will become available May 24, is part of a series of new offerings the ferry company is putting forward this year, Silvia said. The company is also starting bus service from South Station and a partnership with Hy-Line Cruises, so that New Bedford passengers can use Martha’s Vineyard as a connection point en route to Nantucket, he said.
“We’re trying to create some new products here so we can move people around and get people to where they need to be.”
An Adventure Pass buys a round-trip ferry ticket from Vineyard Haven — a standard round trip costs $68 — and entry into two participating city attractions, such as the Whaling Museum, the Rotch-Jones-Duff House and Buttonwood Park Zoo. Children 12 and under ride free.
“It’s good promotion for the museum. … We’ve been struggling to get our name out there,” said Laura Coffin, the assistant director of the New Bedford Museum of Glass, one of the attractions involved. “Anything that helps the creative economy of the city is a good thing,” she added.
“I thought it was pretty creative … to think of bringing people from Martha’s Vineyard to New Bedford,” said Jeff Pontiff of the Whaling City Expeditions. “I think that’s a pretty daring venture.”
Each participant contributed $100 to pay for promotional materials, including a brochure distributed to Vineyard hotels, Silvia said.
“We’re hoping for high impact with a low cost,” said Dagny Ashley, the city’s director of Tourism and Marketing, which helped organize the businesses and promotion.
Silvia said a successful pass could bring as many as 10 people a day into the city. Ashley was more cautious in her predictions: “Any new tourist we can bring into New Bedford is positive,” she said.
Day-trippers would leave Martha’s Vineyard at 8 a.m. and return on the 3:45 p.m. ferry from New Bedford.
Source: The Standard Times
By Natalie Sherman
May 13, 2013 12:00 AM
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