New Welcome Center Becomes Tourist Destination
San Bernardino is the largest county in the US and home to California’s largest cruising classic car show the “Route 66 Rendezvous.”
San Bernardino’s new California Welcome Center opened it’s doors on May 18, 2007.
“I believe the center can really be a nucleus for establishing San Bernardino Valley as a bona fide tourist destination,” said Steve Henthorn, outgoing president of the San Bernardino Convention and Visitors Bureau, whose offices will be housed in the center. Henthorn, born and raised in San Bernardino, graduated from San Gorgonio High School and San Bernardino Valley College. He finished his bachelor’s degree at Cal State Chico.
The California Welcome Center in San Bernardino will literally put San Bernardino, and the surrounding area, on the map, nationally and internationally. Not only will the center be located in San Bernardino, the Welcome Center will have its own Web site and will be linked to the state of California Department of Tourism’s Web site, which receives 84 million hits annually.
State studies project the center will draw 100,000 visitors annually and pour close to $6.5 million into the local economy.
The new Welcome Center promotes San Bernardino and surrounding cities as destination points. The opening of the center is a major step toward revitalization.
Josie Gonzales said, “With myriad resorts and sport venues, the San Bernardino area can become a tourist hub and not just freeway sign en route to Los Angeles or Las Vegas.”
Janice Simoni, the state’s manager of the Welcome Center system, said, “State leaders who approved San Bernardino for the center site were impressed by the city’s community support and collective investment.”
According to Henthorne, “Refurbishing the building to accommodate the center and posting billboards on Interstate 10 cost about $200,000, a tab split among more than a dozen public and private partners.”
The center will be open seven days a week. Inside, it features multimedia panels advertising local destinations, an Internet cafe, a gift shop and kiosks with promotional brochures. Two Red Fusion computer stations take tourists on virtual tours of local hot spots.
A faux Route 66 made from composite material slinks between the multimedia panels.
“Tourism will enhance the city’s economic and social future. If they visit and enjoy, they’ll stay and invest,” Pat Morris said. This region is a wonderful place in which to live, work and play. We now have the opportunity to share it with the world.