Coastal Voices: Visitor Center vs. Bureau

Written by Gina Zottola February 23, 2012 03:44 pm

Our Chamber of Commerce-run Visitor Center serves a very important role in our community, as does the Visitor Bureau! Let’s talk about the difference between the two.

The Visitor Center is located within our Chamber of Commerce offices at 1001 Front St. above the Cultural Center. We serve over 18,000 people who actually walk through our doors with questions about what to do and see in our community. People want to know where to eat, where to stay, and what are some of our best hiking trails and of course, where is the tallest redwood tree.  Along with people coming into the center, our phones ring continually throughout the day with people asking everything from what is today’s weather to where to find bigfoot.

In addition, our Visitor Center serves the important function of sending out relocation packages and visitor packets to those who are interested in moving here, or coming to visit. In fact, we send out close to 5,000 of these each year.

Our Visitor Center includes a retail store that has a variety of items that best represent our area, including beautiful burl and redwood art gifts along with souvenirs, post cards, posters, and books. You can find framed photographs, coffee mugs, stainless steel water bottles and other memorabilia customized to our area. We have videos and staff to help showcase our pristine, natural beauty to our visitors.

The center has two part-time employees and over 20 volunteers. Without our volunteers and dedicated staff, we would not be able to help direct the thousands of tourists we see yearly. Our offices are open Monday through Friday during the winter and seven days a week during the summer months. Bottom line, we are here when the visitors are and provide them crucial information that they can find no where else.

Now, let’s talk about the Visitor Bureau. The Visitor Bureau focuses on marketing our area. The Visitor Bureau’s main job is to promote Crescent City and Del Norte County outside of our region to the “next new visitor.” An example of this would be the ads you may have seen in Sunset or VIA magazines. These ads actually contain a “return card” which readers send in requesting more information. Guess who receives these return cards? The Visitor Center! We then send out a visitor packet to the person requesting the information. This is one of the ways the Visitor Center and the Visitor Bureau work together. The Visitor Bureau places and pays for the advertising, and we at the Visitor Center process the requests.

The Visitor Bureau consists of an executive director, Bob Berkowitz, and committee members who oversee the actions of the executive director. The committee members are derived from various organizations in our community, such as, the city, the county, Redwood State and National Parks, Tri Agency Economic Development and the Chamber.

The Visitor Center works to take care of our visitors before and after they arrive, and the Visitor Bureau works to attract the next new visitor to our area.

Gina Zottola is executive director of the Crescent City–Del Norte County Chamber of Commerce.