Tourism In Yard Increases This Year

As every Harvard student knows, there are two kinds of tourists: those that invade the peace of the Yard in packs and those that travel alone, asking anyone with a bookbag for directions. And they're both arriving in droves this month.

"This is definitely the busiest time of the year," said William Geick, a guide from Mayflower Tours. He added that his company generates about 60 percent of its business from tours in September and October.

The combination of the Rosh Hashanah holiday, the pleasant weather of the fall season and the annual surge of college-shopping high school students causes the number of tours to skyrocket every fall.

"They're from all over the world and they're here to see the leaves," said Pete Callina, an Old Town Trolley driver and narrator.

Callina said the history of Boston and Cambridge is also a large draw for tourists.

Yesterday, Johan Meeusen and Cathy Berx celebrated their honeymoon in Harvard Yard.

"We both studied law in Antwerp and really wanted to see Harvard because it has a good law school," said Berx, who was carrying a formidable-looking camera.

Bruce Hermans, who lives in Sussex, England, said he came to enjoy Harvard's unique architecture.

"I'm trying to get the atmosphere of this place on film by looking at the buildings," he said.

Another category of visitors make a pilgrimage to Harvard--one they hope will be the first of many. Marlyn McGrath Lewis '70-'73, director of admissions, said the number of potential applicants touring the College in the summer and fall has steadily increased over the last five years.

"[High] schools are telling people to visit before they apply, and that has created an increase in visitors and an industry," Lewis said.

Tourists at Harvard often make eccentric requests, as first-years Sarah E. Stoltzner and Jonah I. Zwemer learned recently.

"We were walking to the Science Center and these two Japanese photographers said 'Oh, you'll serve our purposes; you'll do,'" Stoltzner said. "They had us stand together and took our picture."

Zwemer added that the photograph would run in a Japanese fashion magazine in a section about what happens at American universities.

"He asked our names and what our majors were and told us that he'd send us a copy of the magazine," he said.

At times the behavior of the tourists can become disruptive, Jomo A. Thorne '97 said.

"People come here all year because Harvard is a prestigious learning institution," Thorne said. "But it can definitely take away from the College experience."

Ethan E. Thurow '99 also experienced the 'Guest Pest.'

"We live on the first floor of Holworthy, so tourists are looking into our window all the time, which is annoying," Thurow said.

One day, Thurow said, he and his dormmates were returning from dinner when they saw flashes in the next suite.

Thinking that a party was going on, Thurow and his roommates walked in to the neighboring suite to find about 20 young tourists armed with cameras and snapping away.

"We heard them talking really fast and thought, 'God, what language is this!' Then somebody asked if we knew Spanish, and I said sure," he said. "All 20 people turned around and started asking all these questions. I talked to them for 20 minutes and encouraged them all to apply."

So what does John Harvard have to say about all these tourists visiting the Disney World of academia?

Sitting on his pedestal, his silence meaning more than any words could, he refuses to say cheese despite the cajoling of the tourists