A visitor center or centre (see American and British English spelling differences), visitor information center, tourist information center, is a physical location that provides tourist information to the visitors who tour the place or area locally . It may be:
- A visitor center at a specific attraction or place of interest, such as a landmark, national park, national forest, or state park, providing information (such as trail maps, and about camp sites, staff contact, restrooms, etc.) and in-depth educational exhibits and artifact displays (for example, about natural or cultural history). Often a film or other media display is used. If the site has permit requirements or guided tours, the visitor center is often the place where these are coordinated.
- A tourist information center, providing visitors to a location with information on the area's attractions, lodgings, maps, and other items relevant to tourism. Often, these centers are operated at the airport or other port of entry, by the local government or chamber of commerce. Often a visitor center is called simply an information center.
- A corporate visitor center, provides visitors with an easily accessible window into the corporation. Examples are the Johnson and Johnson Visitors Center,
Visitor centers used to provide fairly basic information about the place, corporation or event they are celebrating, acting more as the entry way to a place. The role of the visitor center has been rapidly evolving over the past 10 years to become more of an experience and to tell the story of the place or brand it represents. Many have become destinations and experiences in their own right.
In the United Kingdom, there is a nationwide network of Tourist Information Centres run by the British Tourist Authority (BTA), represented online by the VisitBritain website and public relations organisation. Other TICs are run by local authorities or through private organisations such as local shops in association with BTA.
In Poland there are special offices and tables giving free information about tourist attractions. Offices are situated in interesting places in popular tourists' destinations and tables usually stay near monuments and important culture
In North America, a welcome center is a rest area with a visitor center, located after the entrance from one state or province to another state or province or in some cases another country, usually along an Interstate Highway or other freeway. These information centers are operated by the state they are located in. The first example opened on 4 May 1935, next to US 12 in New Buffalo, Michigan, near the Indiana state line.
Many U.S. cities, such as Houston, Texas and Boca Raton, Florida, as well as counties and other areas smaller than states, also operate welcome centers, though usually with less facilities than state centers have.
Many brands have their own visitor centers such as Coca Cola (which is in part a museum now, but started out as a visitor center), the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, The Hershey's Chocolate Experience, Target's Open House in San Francisco. These visitor centers are often enabled with digital experiences in order to help tell the stories behind the place or brand. A good example of this would be the Johnson Space Center Visitor Center.
In Ontario, there are 11 Ontario Travel Information Centres located along 400-series highways.
Peru features Iperú, Tourist Information and Assistance, a free service that provides tourist information for domestic and foreign travelers, the information covers destinations, attractions, recommended routes and licensed tourism companies in Peru. It also provides assistance on various procedures or where tourists have problems of various kinds. Iperú receives complaints and suggestions for destinations and tourism companies operating in Peru (lodging, travel agencies, airlines, buses, etc.).
Iperú, Tourist Information and Assistance has a nationwide network represented online by the Peru.travel website, the 24/7 line (51 1) 5748000, and 31 local offices in 13 regions in all over Peru: Lima-Callao, Amazonas, Piura, Lambayeque, La Libertad, Ancash, Arequipa, Tacna, Puno, Ayacucho, Cusco, Tumbes and Iquitos.
The official tourist organization or national tourist board of Peru is PromPerú, a national organization that promotes both tourism and international commerce of this country worldwide.
In Australia, most visitor centres are local or state government-run, or in some cases as an association of tourism operators on behalf of the government, usually managed by a board or executive. Those that comply with a national accreditation programme use the italic "i" as pictured above. These visitor information centres (often abbreviated as VICs) provide information on the local area, and usually perform services such as accommodation and tour bookings, flight/bus/train/hire car options, and act as the first point of contact a visitor has with the town or region.
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- Heritage center
- Heritage interpretation
- Interpretation center
- Nature center
- United States Capitol Visitor Center
Notes and references
- Macmillan Dictionary. "definition of visitor center". Retrieved 22 January 2010.
- Hershey's Chocolate World
- VisitBritain website
- Former Enjoy England website page on Tourist Information Centres
- VisitScotland website
- Vellequette, Larry P. (4 October 2005). "$2.6M Center To Be Welcome Sight". The Blade. Toledo, OH. p. B2. OCLC 12962717. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
- Borgstrom, Kirsten (25 May 2010). "Nation's First Highway Travel Information Center: Celebrate 75 Years at the New Buffalo Welcome Center, May 27, 2010" (Press release). Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
- http://visithoustontexas.org, retrieved November 1, 2016.
- See Boca Raton Historical Museum.
- Peru official website
- Communicating effectively with visitors - 16 tips for visitor centers.
- Design Excellence in Visitor Centers.