CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- In addition to fancy wines and cheeses, visitors to Charleston's Capitol Market can now learn about the city's sights and attractions.
The Charleston Convention & Visitors Bureau opened a fulltime information booth at the downtown market on Tuesday.
"There's a lot of foot traffic here anyway," explained Visitors Bureau communications director Jama Jarrett. "It's a great place for visitors to get all their information."
Capitol Market Executive Director Tammy Borstner said about 500,000 people a year come through Capitol Market, a farmers market, restaurant and series of boutique shops set up in a converted railroad depot at the end of Smith and Capitol streets. Many are tourists interested in what Charleston and the surrounding area might have to offer.
Cooperation between city officials, the market and the CVB was "a no-brainer," Borstner said.
At a special ceremony dedicating the new information center, Convention & Visitors Bureau President Alisa Bailey said it made a lot of sense to set up an information booth at Capitol Market. She said the convention bureau in Lexington, Ky., saw a 170 percent increase in visitor traffic after moving to new digs in the city's historic district.
Bailey said signs along local interstates will direct travelers coming through Charleston to visit Capitol Market to find out what there is to see and do in town. It will give them a "true experience" of Charleston's attractions, Bailey said.
Bailey said the information center -- a metal counter with pamphlets and other information about the area tucked unobtrusively into a niche inside the old depot and matching the facility's industrial styling -- will be staffed by Convention & Visitors Bureau employees or volunteers during regular business hours at the market, seven days a week. The information center is expected to have its debut at a special event tonight.
Charleston Mayor Danny Jones said he has followed the progress of Capitol Market since the facility first opened. He said using the market to help promote the city was a good idea.
"Nobody argues with tourism," he said. "Nobody."
Jones said the market and visitors bureau information booth will help bring people to Charleston.
Reach Rusty Marks at rustyma...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.