Spokane Journal of Business

Visit Spokane tourist information center to close; mall kiosk slated

Travel Organization plans to use savings for mobile unit

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Visit Spokane will relocate its visitor information center from its current leased building at 201 W. Main to a kiosk inside River Park Square, says Visit Spokane President and CEO Cheryl Kilday.

The kiosk is expected to open on Nov. 1 and will be located on the main floor of the building, between the parking pay station and Chatters Salon.

"We are very close to the River Park Square information center, so there's a lot of synergy there," Kilday says.

The main reasons for relocating the information center, she says, are to increase foot traffic and make the information easier for visitors to find. Kilday says that after a yearlong study to evaluate the center's current site, Visit Spokane decided to begin looking for an alternative.

"It takes six turns to get to the current location from the interstate," Kilday says. "That area also doesn't get a lot of foot traffic. We began looking for a new, permanent location, but unfortunately couldn't find one. Our interim step was to get this kiosk in a higher foot traffic area while we continue searching."

The building that the information center currently occupies is owned by the city of Spokane, and the city will take over the property once Visit Spokane has moved out, she says. City Spokesman Brian Coddington says the city doesn't have any solid plans at this time for who or what will occupy that structure after Visit Spokane has moved out.

Kilday says that the staffing for the kiosk will remain the same as for the current visitor information center, with two full-time staff members and part-time volunteers. The number of volunteers varies seasonally, she said, but the total number of workers for the visitor information center is between 20 and 30.

Kilday also says the kiosk information center, which will be leased, will cost less to operate. With the funds saved, Visit Spokane plans to launch a mobile vehicle information center, which would travel around the area to various events and offer information. Kilday says Visit Spokane is hoping to launch the mobile center in May 2014.

"River Park Square is giving us a good deal because we'll help generate foot traffic for them too; this will allow us to have the mobile center, and with that we can serve the whole region better," Kilday says. "We can go out to Spokane Valley or to Eastern if there's an event."

The Visitor Information Center provides brochures, maps, and other information to visitors traveling to the Spokane region and to those who are passing through, Kilday says.

"Our staff and volunteers act as travel counselors for the region," she says. "We are open seven days a week, except for major holidays."

Kilday says that Visit Spokane intends to find the information center a permanent office in another building, but the organization also wants to continue running the kiosk and perhaps open more kiosks in the future.

Katie Ross
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Reporter Katie Ross covers manufacturing, hospitality, and government at the Journal of Business. An outdoor enthusiast and snowboard fanatic, Katie is a recent graduate of Gonzaga University.  

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