When tourists in search of travel information walk into a downtown Mesa visitors’ center, they’ll probably notice that the office promoting the region hasn’t been updated in more than 20 years.
But just as downtown and the city are working to project a more contemporary image, the Mesa Convention and Visitors Bureau plans to revamp one of the first places tourists see as they get a feel for the community.
The bureau will oversee a $350,000 makeover starting this year to make the center more appealing to tourists. Technology is driving some of the design, said Gary Levine, chairman of the bureau’s board of directors.
The revamped center will have a cleaner look because it will devote less wall space to tourism brochures. More visitors are getting information electronically.
“That’s where it’s going,” Levine said. “All different age groups now are using computers and laptops and iPads.”
Visitors who aren’t as tech-savvy can still get information on paper. The bureau’s staff can pull up websites and print whatever visitors need, Levine said. Some brochures will remain on hand, however.
“We’re not going to take it away right away,” he said.
The bureau’s office at 120 N. Center St. will get a new lobby and new conference rooms that are mostly used by civic organizations. The bureau will fund the work at the city-owned building, while Mesa will abate the $3,700 monthly rental fee for three years. The city contracts with the bureau to promote tourism, using proceeds from a 5 percent hotel bed tax.
The bureau’s office hasn’t had a major update in at least 22 years. It plans to renovate the building’s exterior next year.
The work comes as the Downtown Mesa Association is more aggressively promoting the area, new businesses are popping up on Main Street and the city is boosting economic development initiatives in the area. Also, a $200 million Metro light rail extension has just begun, with service expected to reach downtown in 2015.
Levine said the bureau wants visitors to have a sense of arrival when they visit its headquarters — and the downtown that’s undergoing a transformation.
“We want people who come to Mesa to know that this is the center of it, and it’s something they expect when they come here.”
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