Dear Editor:

Pagosa Springs needs a Visitor Center manned by caring volunteers. People come from all over to Pagosa Springs, and even if they have done research on the area, they head to the Visitor Center for “personal” information and attention.

I have been a Chamber Diplomat for eight years. Last Friday morning, I welcomed visitors from Norway, Russia, Canada, Washington, Maryland, Kansas, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon and New York. Since there has been talk of not needing a Visitor Center because “everyone” researches online, I decided to do a little onsite research. I asked several folks if they do their vacation research online and most said that they do, but when they get to the town they like to go to the Visitor Center to pick up brochures and visit in person about the area. Most of the older visitors I talked to did say that they do look around on the computer, but preferred to call and request information be sent to them. A young couple from Denver said that they always look for the visitor center when they travel even though they have researched online — again, they like to come in and visit and get brochures, maps, and other tangible information.

From personal experience, I can tell you we have had visitors come into the center, spend an hour visiting and leave the building wanting to come back — permanently. Eighteen years ago, Buddy and I drove from Durango through Pagosa to spend the rest of our vacation week in Santa Fe. As we drove through town, we spotted the Visitor Center and decided to check it out. We went in and visited with a wonderful Diplomat and left with a bag of brochures, the newspaper and other information which I read all the way to Santa Fe. From that information, we decided Wolf Creek was the place for our family ski vacations, and it became the destination for summer and fall vacations as well. We bought a vacation home and moved here permanently eight years ago. All from a visit to the Pagosa Springs Visitor Center.

Pagosa Springs is such a personable town — why on earth would we want to de-personalize it by no longer having a Visitor Center? We not only inform people of what there is to do in the area, but direct them to local shopping and restaurants, and activities that benefit local businesses. I have had countless people tell me we have the nicest and friendliest visitor center they have been to. There are more upscale centers and bigger centers, but what we have going for us at the Pagosa Springs Visitor Center personal attention from dedicated volunteers with help and guidance from staff. A win/win situation.

I hope the Visitor Center will be alive and well for years to come; it is a benefit to visitors and locals alike.

Siri Schuchardt

This story was posted on May 9, 2013.