Letter: Tourist info centres are obsolete
To the editor:
The crux of Stan Martindale’s (Tourism Kelowna chair) position about relocating Kelowna’s tourist information centre is well-hidden. (Queensway Site Eyed to Locate Visitor Centre, Jan. 21 Capital News.) He claims visits are down because the centre on Harvey is in the wrong location. Wrong conclusion. Visits are down because tourist centres are outmoded and obsolete. Anyone with a cell phone, tablet or computer can, in seconds, get 1,000 times more information than a laborious visit to an info centre.
As the author of two printed guidebooks I know only too well how the Internet diminishes anything in print.
It is understandable that tourism staff would love to work in a new 5,000 sq. ft. building overlooking the lake and parks. City hall should not let it happen. Within a few years the info-seeking visitor base will drop to insignificant. Who would want, for instance, a printed list of local hotels when hundreds of websites give every detail of available accommodations including reviews and availability?
Most of those workers who plan to occupy this prime real estate could be working in offices that could be located anywhere. In fact they should work from home.
So, Tourism Kelowna first floats the idea of new offices in City Park knowing that such absurdity will be blown out of the water. In comparison, its second proposal (surely the intended one) looks good and is embraced. Perhaps in asking for office space the size of two large houses, they are actually thinking about one the size of a cottage. Who knows?
The money and effort spent building and relocating would be better spent promoting through web sites, blogs, Facebook and such. In New York City I visited the Manhattan visitor centre and found a room full of computers with a few guides offering instructions. In Kelowna a kiosk with computers, catering to the odd visitor without a cell phone, would be the maximum needed to service a few downtown visitors for a couple of years.