We recently had guests coming to town, so I headed off to The Greater Williamsburg Tourist Information Center at the Village Shops at Kingsmill for brochures. To my surprise, the office was closed and empty.
It made me wonder why the city would locate this information center in such an obscure location and in a depressing, almost empty mall. This is not the first impression we want to give our visitors. Even the signs directing drivers to this location have a “CLOSED” sign slapped on the directional signage along the interstate. Why not remove the signs altogether, as they now serve no purpose? It reminded me of the time that then-Governor Tim Kaine closed all of Virginia’s rest areas; business and tourism leaders were infuriated.
The need to have a Williamsburg visitor center does not fall to Colonial Williamsburg, as CW already operates a beautiful, recently renovated center. The City Council or the Williamsburg Area Chamber of Commerce (which the city helps fund) need to address this and create a positive first impression for arriving guests. It might make good sense to put a welcome center in the redevelopment of the Monticello Shopping Center, as there is the need to rejuvenate this part of town. Maybe allocate some of the forthcoming increased meal and bed tax revenue to build and staff a new center.
We value and need our tourists and can do better. It is time to muster.
Gary W. Brown
James City County