By Ava Wilhite
MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCIV) -- Fiscal 2012 was a successful year for Patriots Point, officials said Thursday, noting an increase in operating revenue and an uptick in paid attendance.
According to figures released Thursday afternoon, the Patriots Point Development Authority finished fiscal 2012 in June with an increase of nearly $500,000 in total operating revenue from fiscal 2011.
Also, paid attendance increased 6 percent, with nearly 235,000 people visiting Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum, officials said. Group sales numbers increased 20 percent over fiscal 2011, according to a report from the development authority.
"Were slowly but surely convincing people that we are a great attraction, with a lot of interesting fun things that are going on out here," said Patriots Point Executive Director Mac Burdette.
He says a five percent increase in revenue is a number his office hasn't seen in years. Burdette credits the turn around to hard working staff and board members, who invested in more marketing.
"More than the money it's a good shot in the arm that what we are doing is working," said Burdette.
He says how they market Patriot Points changed with the return of the USS Laffey after its million dollar restoration.
"Basically we have three ships for the price of one and we couldn't say that when the Laffey wasn't here. She is such a important historic artifact it really allows us to market ourselves differently," said Burdette.
The future for the ship includes more museum renovations and more preparations for the second ever carrier classic on Veterans weekend in November.
"Patriots point economic impact on the Charleston community is $50 million a year. Just patriots point not including the aquarium or anything. We are a major cog in the hospitality industry machine here," said Burdette.
The development authority reports nearly 20,000 campers slept aboard the USS Yorktown, which is docked at Patriots Point, overnight in fiscal 2012. And the number of event rentals at Patriots Point grew by 29 percent, officials said.
"We're gaining positive momentum, and we're touching lives," Burdette said in a news release. "I hope that everyone who visits our museum in the year ahead will walk away pleased with their experience and with a greater understanding of, and appreciation for, the men and women who serve our great nation."