York’s pioneering tourist information centre is proving to be a visitor attraction in its own right.
Since Visit York created the centre, on Museum Street, two years ago 900,000 people have been through its doors. In the first year nearly 400,000 used it, rising to half a million over the last year.
That record-breaking footfall is more than double the number who visited the information centre in its old home, the De Grey Rooms in Exhibition Square.
Many of the visitors are from the UK. But tourism staff say there’s been an increase in visitors from China, Eastern European countries, Spain, Italy and France.
The numbers coming through have exceeded expectations, said chief executive of Visit York Gillian Cruddas.
“York is a world class tourism destination and we needed to ensure that our Information Centre reflected this standing,” she said. “With the addition of cutting-edge facilities, the new centre now offers visitors a top quality, memorable experience in the city, from start to finish.”
To improve the service to Chinese visitors, Visit York has enlisted its first Mandarin speaking volunteer Susan Lee.
“Visitors from China and Hong Kong are always surprised when they arrive in the Visitor centre and I can speak fluently with them,” Susan said.
“They always ask me more questions and show me their Chinese travel guides. Being able to chat in Mandarin helps them feel at home.”
The information centre includes a shop selling locally-produced goods including tea and biscuits from Taylors of Harrogate, handmade chocolate from Naburn and a range of souvenir York 800 merchandise including T-shirts, badges and mugs.
The centre also accepts Euros which is encouraging more European visitors to take home a souvenir from Yorkshire.
Its eye-catching interior design, with swirling graphics and 3D inter-connected artwork, was created by Harrogate design consultancy SoVibrant.