Baltimore Visitor Center to open

This week in business

New $4.5 million facility will promote city tourism

Latino trade representatives in town

Preakness festivities get under way

This week in business

May 03, 2004|By Jacqueline Seaberg | Jacqueline Seaberg,Baltimoresun.com Staff

After a number of delays, the $4.5 million Baltimore Visitor Center opens Friday.

The wavy-roofed, 7,965-square-foot center, located off Light Street at the northern end of the Inner Harbor, is expected to draw 250,000 visitors in its first year, according to the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association.

Inside, people will be able to book tickets for area attractions, make hotel and restaurant reservations and watch a short film called "The Baltimore Experience" in a 50-seat theater.

"It's our opportunity to position and promote Baltimore to the world," said Nancy Hinds, a BACVA spokeswoman.

The center's 9 a.m. opening coincides with citywide celebrations that include the May 15 running of the Preakness at Pimlico Race Course. These activities include the Hot Air Balloon Festival at Rash Field, the Volvo Waterfront Concert Series, the Preakness Parade, the Maryland Film Festival and the arrival of the Spanish tall ship Juan Sebastian de Elcano. The Orioles also will play the Cleveland Indians this weekend.

The increased traffic from these events will help bring more people to the visitor center, Hinds said. "We complement one another, not compete."

The Baltimore Visitor Center also will feature two computer systems. The "Connect Baltimore" system will allow people to buy tickets to multiple attractions at one location. The feature employs OmniTicket technology, which is used at Walt Disney World and at the Eiffel Tower, Hinds said.

In addition, "Touch Baltimore" informational kiosks will employ touch-screen technology to highlight BACVA member companies and organizations and provide information on more than 700 museums, attractions, hotels, restaurants and retailers.

For more information about the center, call 877-BALTIMORE or click here.

In addition, Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley will present the final version of the Inner Harbor master plan at 10 a.m. Tuesday at City Hall.

Two years ago, the quasi-governmental Baltimore Development Corp. commissioned the plan to guide the area's future development. A proposed blueprint -- by Cooper Robertson and Partners; Cho, Benn + Holback, and landscape architect Thomas Balsley -- was presented for public comment last summer. It appeared to have widespread support from civic and business leaders.

O'Malley's presentation of the revised plan Tuesday also will include discussion of "how the city will proceed with it," said Joann Logan, a BDC spokeswoman.

Other events this week include:

Monday: The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development has designated this week as "Latin America Trade Week" in the state.

Representatives from Brazil, Chile and Mexico will be in Maryland through Friday to meet with companies interested in doing business in Latin America. For more information, call 410-333-4302 or click here.

BICSI: A Telecommunications Association will hold its spring conference through Thursday at the Baltimore Convention Center. For more information, visit www.bicsi.org.

Tuesday: The Maryland Chamber of Commerce and the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce are sponsoring a seminar, "The Disney Keys to Excellence." The Disney Institute will teach participants about Disney-style leadership, management and customer service. The session will be held from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Turf Valley Resort and Conference Center in Ellicott City. For more information, call 410-269-0642 or click here.

The British royal Sara Ferguson will speak during "Breakfast with Duchess" at 7:30 a.m at the Center Club, 100 Light St. The event, sponsored by the Greater Baltimore Committee, will examine at how employee health and wellness affects companies. For more information, call 410-727-2820 or click here.

The West Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce is holding a "Lunch & Learn Marketing Seminar" at 11:30 a.m. at the Courtyard by Marriott at Baltimore-Washington International Airport. For more information, call 410-672-3422 or click here.

Maryland's Top 100 Women will be feted at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall by The Daily Record. The honorees include first lady Kendel Ehrlich, Annapolis Mayor Ellen O. Moyer and Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Carol E. Smith. For more information, click here or call 410-752-3849.

Wednesday: The Greater Baltimore Committee is sponsoring "Improving Customer Service: Best Practices in Call Center Management" at 7:30 a.m. at its offices, 111 S. Calvert St. The seminar will feature Brad Cleveland, president and CEO of Incoming Calls Management Institute, who will lead a panel discussion on the topic. For more information, call 410-727-2820 or click here.

The Baltimore Hispanic Chamber of Commerce will sponsor its Cinco de Mayo Networking Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. at Ciao Bella Restaurant, 236 High St. in Little Italy.

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