JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – After years of work and anticipation, Visit Johnson City now has a Visitor Center located in the heart of downtown Johnson City. On Tuesday morning, local and state leaders gathered for a ribbon cutting to open the center officially.

The new center is located at 302 Buffalo Street.

Remarks were made by Visit Johnson City’s executive director Brenda Whitson, Johnson City Mayor Todd Fowler, Tennessee Department of Tourism Development Mark Ezell and a representative from local design company Essyx Exhibits and Design.

The Visitor Center was an idea that sparked discussions back in 2020.

“That was being discussed because we never had a true visitor center in Johnson City,” Whitson said. “And we feel like, that we had so much to offer. And our city felt like, you know, it’s time for a dedicated visitor center for us.”

In 2022, the city saw an increase in tourism revenue. According to city officials, direct visitor spending in Washington County, Tennessee hit a record high of over $305 million, while Johnson City saw $1 billion.

Mayor Fowler said the Visitor Center comes at just the right time.

“We have more people coming,” Fowler said. “We have more people coming to visit. So we need to make sure we have a place that people can go to and find out everything you can do or see in Johnson City.”

The center features interactive exhibits, including a selfie wall with pictures taken around the city and a board highlighting significant parts of the city.

Whitson said there’s one exhibit that sets them apart from other visitor centers.

“There is an immersion theater in the center of it where you get to experience the four seasons of Johnson City,” Whitson said. “And also you hear things that are native to Tennessee. You hear native crickets, you hear native birds, you hear native frogs. And those things are unlike any other visitor center.”

While the building is considered a ‘visitor’ center, Whitson wants those who live in Johnson City to know the center has something to offer them as well.

“They may not [have] always known what there is to see and to do, because our staff is expert at those things and putting things together for them,” said Whitson.

The center is open Monday through Thursday from 8-5 p.m. but closes 30 minutes earlier on Friday.