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Tuesday, Jun 25, 2024

Center Guides International Visitors Through S.D.

The International Visitors Information Center turned 20 this month.

And despite its lackluster quarters in a temporary building across from the Downtown cruise ship terminal, the center has an impressive history.

Operated by the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau, it opened Oct. 7, 1985, in Horton Plaza. In December 2003, it was moved to the corner of Harbor Drive and West Broadway.

The center’s staff and volunteers have served more than 2.5 million of the county’s visitors and prospective visitors, answering questions in person, by phone or e-mail ranging from where to find accommodations and entertainment to history and lore.

But the move to the North Embarcadero proved the biggest boon to its business. During the center’s 2003 fiscal year, which began in July, it averaged 3,300 visitors a month. In fiscal 2005, the average jumped to 10,008 per month. In addition to handing out free visitor maps and guides, the center’s staff offers discounted tickets to local attractions.

According to ConVis, a well-organized volunteer program also is key to the visitor center’s success. Some 70 active volunteers donated nearly 11,000 hours of service in fiscal 2005.

“We started our volunteer program in 1986 with five travel and tourism students from Mesa College,” said Sue Mason, ConVis director of visitor services, who has been part of the team since it began. “One volunteer has been with us for 15 years and six have volunteered for more than 10 years , donating their time and talents to serve as gracious San Diego ambassadors to the hundreds of visitors with whom they come in contact on a daily basis.”

In fiscal 2005, ConVis received a record 3.8 million visitor inquiries, an increase of 5.2 percent compared with the year before. The majority came via the ConVis Web site, www.sandiego.org.

In response to requests from people who saw the bureau’s ads in a variety of national publications such as

Sunset Magazine, Travel & Leisure

magazine and the

Los Angeles Times,

it distributed roughly 1 million of its Visitor Planning Guides during fiscal 2005.

– – –

More Than A Fresh Coat Of Paint:

The Hyatt Regency La Jolla Hotel last month completed a $10 million renovation project that focused on its 419 guest rooms and suites, as well as its meeting rooms.

Using a color palate that emphasized aqua blue, brown, cream and taupe, the guest rooms were redecorated with new furnishings, wall coverings, drapes, new bedding and lighting. The guest room corridors were also re-carpeted. Additionally, the hotel’s second-floor meeting rooms received new carpeting, wall coverings, drapes and lighting.

The hotel’s indoor and outdoor meeting space includes an 11,800-square-foot ballroom, which can accommodate 2,000 guests and a 5,850-square-foot glass enclosed pavilion.

The hotel sits on 11 acres on La Jolla Village Drive.

– – –

Meeting Planners Host Fund-Raiser For Homeless Youth:

The San Diego chapter of Meeting Professionals International is hosting Roctoberfest 2005, a benefit for the Monarch School for the county’s homeless children. The event is scheduled from 4-7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 25, at the Belly Up Tavern on South Cedros Avenue in Solana Beach.

It will feature live and silent auctions, with a portion of the proceeds donated to the Monarch School.

Founded in 1988 to serve homeless and at-risk children, the Monarch School has an enrollment of more than 100 students between the ages of 7 and 18.

The San Diego chapter of Meeting Professionals International has nearly 500 members and was established in 1979.

Send tourism and hospitality news to Connie Lewis via e-mail: clewis@sdbj.com. She may also be reached by phone at (858) 277-6359.


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