Published on : Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Opened on Fountain Square in September of 2010, the Cincinnati USA Visitor Center was a partnership between the Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) and the Cincinnati Police Department, with the goal of providing an in-person welcome to visitors, increasing both tourism spending and length of stay. In its first sixth months, the Center had welcomed more than 400 visitors, operating 4 days a week.
Five years later, the volunteers at the Visitors Center have greeted and helped more than 37,000 visitors from around the world. The highest percentage of international visitors have come from Germany, with England a close second and Australia third. The Center now operates on Fountain Square 7 days a week with the help of 75 volunteers. These volunteers, ranging from retirees to young professionals, provide visitors with assistance on everything from directions to restaurant recommendations.
During the Center’s first summer of operation in 2011, the Cincinnati USA CVB hosted 51,000 visitors from the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the North American Christian Convention, and the Prince Hall Shriners, among others. During summer 2015, that number quadrupled with the arrival of just one event: the 86th Major League Baseball All-Star Game. The Center operated 12 hours a day during All-Star Week, welcoming baseball fans from around the country and the world to Cincinnati.
“When the Visitor Center opened in 2010, Cincinnati USA was coming into its own – booking and hosting major national conventions and events,” said Dan Lincoln, president and CEO of the Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Events like the 2012 World Choir Games and 2015 MLB All-Star Game have put Cincinnati in the international spotlight, and our passionate Visitor Center volunteers are invaluable in helping us make a positive first impression on each and every visitor.”
The Visitors Center volunteers consistently go above and beyond for visitors to Cincinnati, providing assistance while also becoming a friend, confidant, or even a detective for visitors’ needs:
Volunteers Emilie and Bev were working at the Visitors Center when a couple from Tel Aviv, Israel stopped in looking for a Delta office downtown to change their travel arrangements home. With accented English, the couple was having issues updating their flight home over the phone. Emilie and Bev worked with the couple for more than 4 hours, communicating with the airline to update the flights as needed. Since then, the four have stayed in touch, reuniting multiple times when the Israeli couple returned to Cincinnati.
When a camera memory card was found near the Tyler Davidson Fountain, volunteer Mike looked through each photo on the card, looking for any information that would identify the owner. He found photos of a newborn baby, and eventually a California license plate. He called the area’s police department, and gave them the plate information. The police were able to locate the travelers, who were overjoyed to have the card back, thanking Mike profusely in a letter sent to the Visitor Center. He’d recovered the pictures of their first grandchild.
Coming off of the summer’s All-Star Game festivities, as well as the return of the North American Christian Convention and Prince Hall Shriners alongside other conventions and events, September continued to keep the Center full of activity. Oktoberfest, Cincinnati Food + Wine Classic, and MidPoint Music Festival all brought thousands of visitors downtown, with more expected as the holiday season approaches.
The Cincinnati USA Visitor Center is open daily on Fountain Square (between Chipotle and Rock Bottom Brewery) with winter hours from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. through the end of April.
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