City Council is right to explore visitors center
April 7, 2014 at 5:04 p.m.
Updated April 6, 2014 at 11:07 p.m.
Editor, the Advocate:
In the April 1 Victoria City Council meeting, strong arguments were presented by a number of Victoria citizens to build a visitors center on Main Street. The council voted to do precisely what they should do. They voted to study the proposal and scheduled a workshop for that purpose.
The citizens who made public comments, and I was one, all supported a new visitors center. What additional information does the City Council need? They need to know if a modern visitors center really has an impact on the number of visitors coming to Victoria, eating meals in Victoria and spending one or more nights in Victoria. Council questioned whether a building was even needed to give visitors useful information when so much is available on smartphones and the Internet. Someone questioned whether a visitors center should even be on Main Street. Someone asked if it would be better to renovate an existing downtown building for a visitors center. All good questions.
Answers to even more questions need to be found before a decision is made either to build a new building or not to build one. The best place to start is to visit with Texas cities that have visitors centers. The Texas Directory of Visitor Bureaus lists 72 cities. Some are cities near Victoria's size. A few promote what is Victoria's biggest asset: history.
From them, the City Council can find out what works and what doesn't work in efforts to attract visitors. Ultimately, the City Council determines the best way to spend the taxes we extract from the visitors who spend nights in Victoria. If they spend tax revenue well, we get more visitors. More visitors mean more profitable hotel rooms and more restaurants. Hotels and restaurants and their employees pay sales and property taxes, which help us all.
James M. Stokes, Victoria