When it comes to tourism, visitor centers play a significant role in enhancing a tourist’s experience and influencing a community’s success as a travel destination.
Where a visitor center is located within a community is important and Assistant to the County Manager Linda Matteson explained during a recent interview that the visitor center at 109 Central Park Square is not a location that visitors would typically look for when entering town.
Based off a recommendation in the County’s newly approved tourism strategic plan, the Tourism Implementation Task Force is looking into whether the Los Alamos Visitor Center should be relocated.
“We first identified criteria of how we would judge what was good and bad about the locations, what are the things that are important to us,” Matteson said.
The task force brainstormed possible locations including Fuller Lodge, 1010 Central Ave. in the grassy area in front of the Municipal Building parking lot, the U.S. Post Office and the site of the former Municipal Building near Ashley Pond.
Matteson said the task force is focusing on establishing a rubric to evaluate potential sites for the visitor center. This rubric will be used to score, and rank sites based on set criteria including facility leasing cost verses the cost to construct a new building, availability and whether the location maximizes spending opportunities, proximity to transit lines and familiar locations.
The rubric is expected to be finalized within the next two weeks, Matteson said, adding that the plan is to assign a potential site to each task member to research. The public will be invited to provide input on the various locations.
Using a rubric is a tried and true method, Matteson said. “We’re really following an industry known trade off analysis,” she said. “For the task force, they wanted to be as open and transparent as possible because they will be going to the council with this (for approval).”
The task force is relatively new, having just been approved by the county council in May. Its first meeting was May 23. There are 11 members serving on the committee with a range of representation in the community. Some are business owners, others are part of local organizations and a few serve on other County boards and commissions. Matteson said the task force meetings are open to the public and noted that the task force is mirrored after the White Rock Master Plan Implementation Committee.
Matteson said she is impressed with the work the task force has already completely.
“They are a hardworking, passionate group and it’s very exciting to work with them,” she said. “I’m impressed with what’s been done so far.”