A REVITALISED visitor information centre has been officially opened in Chester.

The Town Hall outlet offers a showcase for Cheshire’s visitor economy to its half a million visitors per year.

These visitors have access to high quality service and information designed to help them make the most of their visit to Chester and Cheshire.

The revived centre is the result of a partnership between the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA), Visit Chester & Cheshire and Cheshire West and Chester.

Visit Chester & Cheshire’s director Karen Balmer said: “This is a timely improvement to the quality of information facilities which will encourage visitors to stay longer, spend more and return more often to explore the vast range of Cheshire’s visitor opportunities, among them food and drink, accommodation, events and gardens.”

The centre has already welcomed over 72,000 people.

The team from the centre, which is operated by destination management organisation Visit Chester & Cheshire, have already noted the popularity of the exclusive Chester and Cheshire souvenirs and the limited edition Rhino Mania merchandise.

The centre staff, who collectively boast over 130 years of tourism experience, have also noticed a change in the type of visitors, witnessing an increase in foreign exchange students - mostly Spanish and Italian.

Councillor Richard Short, Portfolio Holder for Culture & Recreation, Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: “This new facility will help visitors and Cestrians alike to discover all the great things there are to see and do in Chester and the surrounding area.

“Local businessesŠwill benefit from the improved booking for accommodation, tours and box office services.Š

“Visitors will be encouragedŠto spend more time (and hopefully money) in the area, to come back again and to tell all their friends what a great place Chester is to visit.”

Nick Brooks-Sykes, director of tourism, Northwest Regional Development Agency, said: “Visitors to England’s Northwest are spoilt for choice when it comes to the depth of products and experiences in the region and it is important that up to date information and unrivalled local knowledge is available through our Visitor Information Centres.

“Improvements to Chester’s new visitor information centre are the latest in a number of projects to revitalise the region's tourist information services.

“Tourism is worth £1.4 billion to Cheshire and Warrington, which translates into 36,000 jobs for the sub-region itself.

“It is our ambition to ensure tourism remains a key industry for the regional economy, with an overall target to invest £2 billion by 2015.”