SALISBURY — The 20th anniversary of the Maria Miles Visitor Center will be celebrated at an open house July 26.
The open house is from 9 a.m. to noon at the center, located off Exit 60 of Interstate 95 south in Salisbury. State and municipal leaders will speak beginning at 10:30 a.m., discussing the importance of tourism to the area.
State lawmakers who will attend include Sen. Diana DiZoglio, Sen. Joan Lovely, Rep. James Kelcourse, Rep. Paul Tucker, Rep. Thomas Walsh, Rep. Christina Minicucci and Tourism, Arts & Culture Chairman Rep. Paul McMurtry. There will also be representation from the Salisbury Board of Selectmen.
Area chambers of commerce, marketing organizations and visitor center advertisers will set up tables in the picnic lawn area to speak with visitors about their local businesses and communities. Woodman’s of Essex will serve chowder throughout the morning.
The center welcomes more than 350,000 visitors each year — offering maps, guides, traffic and weather conditions, and other information while also providing refreshments and restrooms, according to a press release from the North of Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Ann Marie Casey, the bureau’s executive director, said the regional tourism councils across Massachusetts depend on public-private partnerships to help offset operating costs for the state-owned visitor centers, which serve more than 2.5 million travelers annually and cost more than $1 million for staffing and overhead.
“In previous years, managing regional tourism councils like the North of Boston CVB have received supplemental state funding to help with staffing costs and extended hours of operation, but unfortunately, the fiscal year 2020 did not include us,” Casey said in the release.
“As of July 1st, which is the height of tourism season,” she added, “many Massachusetts visitor centers had to adjust their services with reduced hours, reduced staffing and even some possible closures due to this funding shortfall. The Maria Miles Visitor Center in Salisbury has remained open with extended hours, however, the CVB board of directors is committed to securing a predictable public funding source to secure our future moving forward.”
The visitor center was named for Maria Miles, former president of the Salisbury Chamber of Commerce, where she worked for more than 30 years promoting her hometown.
“For 20 years, the visitor center has been the first stop and impression for people visiting our state by car,” Casey said. “We are grateful to our members who advertise at the center, the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism, the Department of Transportation and the Massachusetts Legislature for their support. We look forward to showcasing our efforts and continuing this vital public private partnership.”