While the current pandemic has limited many options for people to gather together, there are still ways for people to enjoy activities outside, in a safe manner.
For those visiting Santa Barbara or even for those who live in the area, finding a way to responsibly travel across the county is important.
One way people can get that information is by visiting the Visitors Center located on 120 State St.
The center is a partnership between Visit Santa Barbara and Santa Barbara South Coast Chamber of Commerce. It recently reopened its doors back on July 17.
“The Chamber is honored to reopen the State Street Visitor Center as a portal of safety information for residents and businesses as well as for visitors who are slowly coming back to Santa Barbara for the amazing experiences we offer,” Kristen Miller, President/CEO of the Santa Barbara South Coast Chamber of Commerce, told the News-Press via email.
The Visitor Center serves as a hub to promote Safe & Smart Santa Barbara County. It serves as a way to empower and educate locals and guests to engage in community activities in a safe and smart manner during this uncertain time.
The center usually opens its doors to people all across the globe, but current restrictions have limited the people coming into town, who are usually local to the state of California.
Still, people visiting safely and responsibly is an important way for Santa Barbara to make up some lost revenue.
According to statistics from Visit Santa Barbara, tourism is one of the region’s biggest economic sectors. The South Coast totals more than $1.9 billion and generates more than $56 million in yearly tax revenue in a typical year.
While the county isn’t banking on making that type of money, places like the Visitor’s Center are committed to helping the local economy recover.
“Our local economic recovery will depend on a mix of customers from the local neighborhoods and our neighboring communities,” Ms. Miller said.
The center is currently open from noon to 5 p.m. every day and according to Annemarie Rogers, the Visitors Center Executive Director, with many locals coming in to get information or even buy gifts.
“Our current shopping policy invites a limited number of guests in at one time, who must be wearing masks, and asks that merchandise only be touched with the intention of purchasing. There is also directional floor signage to keep the flow of guests in a constant direction,” Ms. Rogers said.
On average weekdays, the center helps upwards of 50 people. Ms. Rogers added that on weekends it gets busier with usually 100 people or more visiting.
The center provides visitors with free masks as well as educating them on staying six feet apart, wearing said masks and having a list of what attractions in town are still open. There is also a hand sanitizer station outside.
“An important function of the center is to inform visitors how to travel responsibly. We educate guests on the face mask requirements, social distancing protocols, and how to be healthy and responsible travelers,” Ms. Rogers said.
“The SBSCCC leadership team has been in constant communication with local health and government officials to support and comply with all mandates to ensure that everyone engages in business in a safe and healthy manner.”
Funny enough, local people are especially curious during this time.
Before the pandemic, many people would be too busy with day-to-day life to enjoy some of the natural beauty Santa Barbara has to offer. Now, the center is seeing an uptick in people wanting to get outside and do something.
“For locals, we are fielding a lot of questions about what is open and what activities are available, especially for local families. We are so glad to be of service to our community in this way,” Ms. Rogers said.
Overall, Ms. Rogers said she is especially happy to see the center back to being open and being able to help locals and visitors alike explore such a beautiful area of California.
“Since the Visitor Center reopened, we have connected with many people – locals and guests alike. It is reassuring to share what is so special about Santa Barbara with visitors and provide them with the proper protocols to ensure they can enjoy all Santa Barbara, Goleta, and Carpinteria have to offer in a safe manner,” Ms. Rogers said.