Doing well in weak economy

Its nice for Historic City News to be able to report on at least one local company that says “business is looking up” despite the sagging economy.

In a town dominated by tourism, conducting tours of all types is a big business.

Train and trolley tours, ghost tours, sightseeing boat tours, walking tours, horse-drawn carriage tours and even guided tours riding a Segway all seem to be holding on to their fair share of the sightseeing market in St. Augustine.

One of the interesting themes on a walking tour, the “pub crawl”, seems to be catching on for adults looking for entertainment and something different to do in the early evening.

The St. Augustine Visitors and Convention Bureau updated Historic City News about one such “pub crawl” held on the second-Friday of the month where the participants put on their 16th – 19th Century finery and amble along; visiting four different pubs while engaging in spirited camaraderie, storytelling, singing and drinking.

Today we interviewed Alice Sutherland who owns and operates The Saint Augustine Pub Crawl which bills itself as a historical walking pub tour. Sutherland started her business in St. Augustine over a year ago, in April of 2008. Business for her tour has grown and she tells us that this year she is incorporating.

Sutherland, who is a licensed tour guide, said “When I started the pub crawls I would only have 2 guests per tour.” Now she reports that she is selling out five nights a week every Wednesday through Sunday evening – tours are limited to 15 participants per Pub Crawl.

“Our average tour participant is between the ages of 29-65”, Sutherland said. She added, “The tour itself is more high-brow than perhaps a college pub crawl.”

When asked to describe her tour, Sutherland said, “The St. Augustine Pub Crawl is a historical walking tour visiting 5 of St. Augustine’s most unique, authentic pubs and taverns. You will experience a slice of the local St. Augustine culture whilst enjoying tales of St. Augustine’s history along with traditional ‘Pub Lore’ of times gone by, around the world.”

Tours of this type offer a mix of local color and the traditions of ‘Public Houses’ throughout time, historical St. Augustine and the world and Sutherland says she is continuing to experience a quickly growing audience — crediting a growing number of “high ratings” from past clients who report their experience with her on various vacation and travel websites.

Currently Sutherland offers one tour but she is in the process of writing two brand new tours as well as a book that will be available soon.

The St Augustine Pub Crawl departs at 5:00 p.m. and ends at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday evenings. Confirmed reservations are encouraged by calling 904-540-3476; standby reservations are accepted on sold out tours. Tickets are available at Ann O’Malleys Pub or at their ticket booth at 23 Orange Street.

Photo credit: Historic City News staff photograph


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