Release Date: November 8,2019
Visit Santa Barbara and The Chamber of the Santa Barbara Region on Nov. 7 officially opened the new State Street Visitor Center, 120 State St., Ste. F, in the Hotel Californian property, with a ribbon cutting ceremony attended by local hospitality industry representatives and public officials.
“Visit Santa Barbara is thrilled to partner with the chamber, the city of Santa Barbara and Hotel Californian’s management group to open this new visitor center,” said Kathy Janega-Dykes, president/CEO of Visit Santa Barbara, which provided funding and support to launch the center.
“The center is situated perfectly at the historic gateway to our city,” Janega-Dykes said. “Not only will it
capture visitors as they walk and explore the waterfront and State Street, it’s also a stone’s throw from the Amtrak train station.”
The design of the new facility is intended to represent the beauty and sophistication of the Santa Barbara South Coast (deep indigo tones and wood elements evoke the beach) with the functionality of a modern, high-traffic information center to help visitors plan their current and future trips.
The space features a welcome desk, a retail section featuring locally sourced Santa Barbara- and California-themed items, and travel necessities available for purchase; communal tables with iPads and charging stations, as well as a lounge area and a photo booth for creating fun photo strips.
Amy Cooper, owner of Plum Goods boutique, advised on the center’s innovative design and retail products.
Local businesses and attractions have new opportunities to advertise and reach visitors inside the visitor center, including a three-panel feature wall that showcases excursions and accommodations, a video display for advertising activities throughout the region, and a brochure rack.
On select occasions, visitors will be able to engage with local artisans and artists in the Maker’s Market retail section, one of several elements intended to make the visitor center an experiential and interactive environment.
Santa Barbara-area visitor centers currently welcome nearly 200,000 visitors each year. These include the new State Street Visitor Center; the original Garden Street Visitor Center, which will continue to operate at 1 Garden St. and Cabrillo Boulevard; and Cruise Ship Welcome Tables, which pop up temporarily along Cabrillo Boulevard near the Sea Landing walkway during cruise ship visits in the fall through spring shoulder season.
The new State Street center had its soft opening in September and is expected to draw a new audience of walk-in traffic, while the Garden Street center will continue serve as a pickup point for tour buses and other tour operators on Cabrillo Boulevard.
“This has been a vision in the making for the past 30 years and to see it finally come to fruition is incredible, especially with such a strong partnership with Visit Santa Barbara,” said Stephanie Armstrong, interim executive director of The Chamber of the Santa Barbara Region.
“The center will serve as an integral tool in promoting our city as well as boosting our economic vitality throughout the region,” she said. “We are grateful as well for the support from the city of Santa Barbara to create this community and visitor resource.”
Visitor Center executive director Annmarie Rogers, who in February will be celebrating 25 years of service, is responsible for the operation of the visitor centers, with support from 10 paid staff members and 50 volunteers, under the auspices of The Chamber of the Santa Barbara Region.
Local businesses interested in advertising at the new State Street Visitor Center may contact Stephanie Armstrong at email@example.com.
— Anna Jacobson for Visit Santa Barbara.