In an effort to improve visibility and access to those visiting Houston, the city's official visitors center moved to a new, temporary spot on Avenida de las Americas on June 1 before a more permanent home is established in the Convention District.
The board of Houston First Corporation last month approved the move of the center, which formerly resided at City Hall on the western edge of Downtown. The new location offers enhanced visibility and easy parking.
Research has shown that destinations with visitors centers in highly trafficked locations experience a significant increase in visitation. The temporary visitors center at 1300 Avenida de las Americas is located within close proximity to multiple hotels, the George R. Brown Convention Center, Discovery Green and three sports arenas, which collectively draw over 2.5 million patrons each year.
"Through an ongoing dialogue with those who come into the current visitors center, we've found that many people have no idea what Houston has to offer in terms of attractions and events until they talk to the well trained staff there," says Peter McStravick, chief development officer of Houston First. "We believe that moving the facility closer to the Convention District will increase its visibility."
The temporary, 1400-square-foot location is in a street level retail space on the east side of the Hilton Americas-Houston facing the Convention Center.
The space formerly used for the visitors center at City Hall will be re-purposed for meetings and press conferences. Preliminary plans include displays about Houston's history and the Houston Hall of Fame which honors those who have achieved excellence in the arts, athletics, business, entertainment, law, medicine and public service. Each inductee was either born in Houston or called Houston home during the time of their greatest achievements. The theater is expected to remain.
The move comes at a time when the Convention District is undergoing $1.5 billion in renovations and new development, including the new 1,000-room Marriott Marquis and street-level retail space in the GRB. Construction in the district is slated for completion by the end of 2016 in time for the Super Bowl in February the following year. Another seven hotels are under construction or in planning stages across Downtown.
As part of the Convention District redevelopment, the visitors center will eventually move to a permanent home somewhere along Avenida de las Americas. Houston First is also looking to add satellite centers in other parts of the city where visitors tend to congregate such as the Galleria and perhaps the Texas Medical Center.