July 22, 2024

Springswines

The Tour And Travel Enthusiasts

City considers ‘options’ on relocating region’s only visitor centre

2 min read
City considers ‘options’ on relocating region’s only visitor centre

Tourist brochures and guidebooks were removed from the atrium of the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce space on Hespeler Road last month

The City of Cambridge says it is “looking at options” before deciding if and where it wants to relocate a 401-adjacent visitor information centre that has welcomed tourists to the city for decades.

For the last few years the visitor services centre was located in the atrium at the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce office at 750 Hespeler Rd., but that all changed when the contract ended Dec. 31, 2023 and brochures, maps and guidebooks were quietly removed from the racks.

The city has contracted visitor services to the local business association since 1981, said chamber president and CEO Greg Durocher.

“We are the only visitor centre on the 401 between Windsor and the Quebec border,” he said, adding he believes the city will eventually want to renew the contract with the chamber because it “doesn’t make sense” to put it anywhere else.

He just doesn’t know what the plan is yet.

“This is the obvious visitor centre location. You wouldn’t move it to somewhere else when you’re right on the 401,” he said.

The proliferation of cell phones and GPS navigation may have diminished the need for the service in some people’s minds, but GPS doesn’t really help visitors who are unfamiliar with the area, Durocher said.

“A lot of the time we find that visitors want to talk to real people.”

Concierge service was part of the visitor centre experience, offering helpful advice to tourists.

The chamber recently underwent a transformation to become a business centre with a extensive renovation dubbed The Link, but Durocher said the atrium remained the place where tourists dropping in could pick up the latest information from brochure racks.

“People are coming in, disturbed there are no services here, but that’s just the way it is” in the meantime, he added.

 Durocher said now is a good time for the city to reassess what it wants to do, but it won’t be long before visitors will start flowing into town.

“By May, you want to have something in place because that’s when the heat of the season starts and it goes right through to about Thanksgiving.”

The tourism file is managed through the city’s economic development department, which is in the process of figuring out what to do with visitor services, according to the city’s communication’s department.

No timeline was provided on when the city might reach a decision.