The plan to relocate the Visitor Center is typical of most decisions taken in Greene County with no cost-benefit analysis, no financial rationale, no justification except grandiose plans with a lot of wishful thinking.
How can someone justify spending tax income from tourists (those TOT dollars) for the next 40 years to pay back a $1 million loan at 4% interest? Where is the benefit for Greene County?
The current Visitor Center has been in its present location for the last 10 years. What are the indicators of success of this visitor center: number of visitors per year, number of brochures distributed, number of “visitors” clicking on the Greene County website, any in-person bookings, opinions left from visitors, etc. Would such metrics or others be better in a different location and why?
More than 90% of travelers now plan their trips and get tourist information online. Thus, with instant information available “on the go,” the days of frequenting visitor centers to learn more about a specific area are on the wane. It’s all about online tour guides and apps now. Has anyone given some thought about whether costs involved in buying and maintaining a local visitor center will even be warranted a few years down the road?
Tourism is changing: There is a disconnect between the level of funding of a visitor center and the “level of opportunity” derived from its physical presence. What has been done for digital marketing and advertising? Since a visitor center no longer influences travel behavior, why doesn’t the tourism office focus its efforts on a real internet presence with online bookings, itineraries, photographs and video “that inspire people to come here and stay longer?”
The quality and sophistication of Greene County tourism’s online presence and digital strategy will indeed make the difference, not the relocation of a Visitor Center.