Denver, CO - March 9 - Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock and tourism officials joined a gaggle of colorful mascots today to open the new VISIT DENVER Tourist Information Center at 1575 California Street. This is only the third new tourist information center Denver has opened since 1951. The new high tech, state-of-the-art, 21st Century Tourist Information Center is unlike anything ever seen in Denver before.

Some of the new features include:

• Touchscreen technology where visitors can access information and then have it emailed, texted to their mobile devices, or printed in the center

• Colorful Denver and Colorado videos that will be showcased to convention delegates and tourists both inside the center and via street-facing screens on California Street

• Visitor access to multiple computers in a relaxed setting, all of which will feature the website with access to hundreds of articles and information about Denver to help them plan their activities

• Opportunities to better communicate Denver's brand as an outdoor city that offers urban adventures, leveraging the design and décor of the space, from creative photography and suspended B-cycles, to historic columns and century-old red brick walls

• A new gift shop focused on offering products and unique souvenirs sourced from Denver and Colorado companies and artists, including the ever-popular blue bears, which are replicas of the "I See What You Mean" public art sculpture by Lawrence Argent

• And personalized service and advice from our passionate, well-trained staff

"Studies have shown that the more information visitors have about a destination, the longer the stay and the more money they spend," said Richard Scharf, president & CEO of VISIT DENVER. "We wanted to showcase Denver in a way that highlights us as a modern, green and high tech city, but still celebrates our history, turn-of-the century architecture, love of the outdoors, creative arts culture, and beer and dining scene," Scharf said.

Mayor Hancock said that tourism is Denver's second largest industry and that the 16th Street Mall is the city's number one attraction. "This is great location because California Street is the primary access from the Mall and downtown hotels to the Colorado Convention Center," the Mayor said. "We want to show visitors that we appreciate their business and we're here to help them enjoy their stay."

Scharf noted that a large number of people using the center are international tourists. "In Europe and other parts of the world, people are more used to using information centers, so when they come to America, they seek them out. We print Denver guides in nine languages to help them find more things to see and do," Scharf said. He noted that with the increased number of direct flights and a growing number of international visitors attending conventions, Denver has seen a large upswing in international visitors.

Denver opened its first information center in 1951 at 225 W. Colfax. In that pre-interstate era, Colfax was also U.S. Highway 40 and the only major road going west, so all cars heading west drove by the information center. The center offered, for the era, a "high tech" drive-through window where tourists could get a map without leaving their car.

In 2004, the center was moved to the corner of 16th and California, where it was able to help nearly 100,000 visitors a year. With changes in the lease and opportunity to create a more visitor-friendly and high-tech space, the center has now been moved across the street diagonally to 1575 California.

VISIT DENVER also operates an information center in the terminal at Denver International Airport and in the Colorado Convention Center during major meetings and shows.

Over the years, Scharf noted that the center has received some unusual questions. He said: "We've been asked everything from: ‘What season is it right now in Denver?' to ‘When do deer turn into elk?' to ‘Which fourteeners can we climb from downtown Denver?' But as funny as these questions are, they show that there is a need to educate our visitors about the city and what there is to see and do, and that's why we operate them."

Photo Captions and Credits:

Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock poses with some of the city's favorite mascots in front of VISIT DENVER's newly opened high tech Tourist Information Center.
Credit: Jensen Sutta