After several months of renovations, and $300,000 dollars from its General Fund, the improved Visitors Center is ready for tourists.
“The Visitors Bureau is the gateway to Centre County for all of us. We depend on the bureau referrals for folks that are just stopping into the area and may or may not have made decisions on where to stay,” Mimi Driscoll, General Manager of the local Best Western Hotel, said.
The economic crisis hit the tourism industry hard both nationally and locally. As a result, families are tightening their purse strings. The Commonwealth is also chipping away critical grant money that had been used to market Centre County.
Last year our funding was cut about fifty-seven percent, this year it’s still up in the air. At this point, I'm guessing it'll probably go down. Maybe thirty percent again,” said Betsey Howell, Executive Director of the Central Pennsylvania Convention & Visitors Bureau.
With changing economic times the CPCVB has made the revamped exhibit “change-able.”
“They have equipped the new exhibit area with digital photo frames, which makes it easy for “people to see what we have to offer and what's going on,” said Howell. “We can put different events on the digital photo frames, we can just put different photography, we can do whatever we want.”
Howell said any way to save money is a big bonus, because a $300,000 renovation may not be in the cards until the state restores tourism funding.