Wednesday July 23rd
CVB to Operate the Visitor Center
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: July 1, 2014
CONTACT: Jennifer Reichelt, Deputy City Manager - 455-8417
CITY ANNOUNCES PARTNERSHIP WITH
CVB FOR THE OPERATION OF THE VISITOR CENTER
GREAT FALLS, Montana – At tonight’s City Commission meeting, the Commission approved a three-year lease agreement with the Great Falls Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) for the operation of the Visitor Center, effective immediately. The Visitor Center provides maps, brochures, event calendars, coupons, magazines and general information for the Great Falls area and State of Montana. It is open year round, seven days a week and is manned primarily by volunteers. In 2013 there were 13,540 guests served from every state in the United States and over 25 foreign countries.
The City’s decision to not continue operating and managing the Visitor Center stemmed from the stress the General Fund was under. Departments were asked to focus on their core and essential services and to streamline programs.
There is no doubt that the Visitor Center provides an essential service for the tourism and hospitality industries in the community, as well as for residents and visitors. When the decision was made to no longer operate the Visitor Center, City staff began identifying other entities or partners in the community that would be better equipped to manage or operate the Visitor Center and who have the experience and tools to market the Great Falls area better than the City. City staff contacted a number of the community’s tourism entities to find out if any of them would be interested in operating the Center.
The CVB, Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID) as well as the Great Falls Development Authority (GFDA) stepped up during the process and committed to help operate the Center. During the process it was determined that the CVB would serve as the lead agency, with both the TBID and GFDA assisting.
The City has provided the CVB with a turnkey operation that is ready to go starting July 2. The change-over to the CVB should be seamless as most of the volunteers (Retired Senior Volunteer Program) are continuing their service and the hours of operation will remain the same during the summer months (May-September):
- Monday through Friday - 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
The CVB is currently recruiting for a part-time Visitor Information Center Coordinator to oversee the operations of the Center (for job posting information call 406-770-3078). It is also the CVB and their partners’ intent, at the end of this tourist season, to complete a facelift of the Visitor Center in an effort to make it more inviting to visitors.
According to Shane Etzwiler, Vice President of the CVB, “As an organization we are extremely excited about this opportunity and serving the Great Falls community. We are looking forward to this partnership with the City.”
The City is extremely fortunate to have such strong tourism and business partners in our community and is thankful to the CVB for taking on this exciting challenge to manage the Visitor Center. The City would also like to thank GFDA and the TBID for being a part of the process and assisting the CVB in this endeavor. The City looks forward to our continued partnership with these tourism entities. For more information about the Visitor Center and the lease agreement with the CVB contact Jennifer Reichelt at 455-8417 or Shane Etzwiler at 268-2901.