ROCKINGHAM — A new virtual brochure was unveiled Tuesday afternoon when city and county officials, members of the Chamber of Commerce and the Tourism Authority cut the ceremonial ribbon on Richmond County’s new kiosk system at Richmond Plaza Shopping Center.
The event was a chance to display the kiosks here in the county, said Richmond County Tourism Development Authority Executive Director Kelly Pruett Chance.
“The Richmond County Tourism Development Authority is proud to showcase our new electronic kiosk system, located in 15 locations throughout Richmond County, designed and manufactured by Meridian Kiosk Systems of Aberdeen,” said Chance. “With this new system in place, we can expand the offerings of Richmond County and improve the experiences of our residents and visitors.”
The 15 kiosks include three outdoor ones located at the shopping center, the Rockingham Dragway and the Hamlet Depot, as well as 12 others at Bostic gas station in Hoffman, Holiday Inn Express, Days Inn and America’s Best Value Inn in Rockingham, Cole Auditorium in Hamlet, the Berry Patch, Rankin Museum and Ellerbe Springs Inn in Ellerbe and Discovery Place Kids, Pattan’s Downtown Grille and the Visitor’s Center in Rockingham. The final one is a mobile unit Chance takes to events outside of the county to highlight local attractions.
The kiosks shine a light on attractions, events, things to do, restaurants and shopping destinations and will be updated 24/7, according to Chance.
“Each day we’ll be adding more and more,” she said. “The goal is to have all the shopping, all the dining options, and we already have the hotels. The events are connected to our Facebook page so all the events are on there.”
The purpose, she added, is to provide information to county residents, as well as hoping to extend the knowledge of the area to the outer region and neighboring states.
“The ones we have stationed at the Hamlet Depot, they’ll be able to get off the Amtrak and have access to local hotels,” Chance said. “We’re trying to create awareness to what Richmond County has to offer. It’s a way to extend tourism without having to expand manpower.”
Working alongside Meridian Kiosk Systems, Chance and her staff have been installing the 15 kiosks across the county and providing internet service to those outside of coverage area.
Rockingham City Manager Monty Crump said Tuesday that the system is paid for by the tourism board, which garners funds from a six percent county tourism tax. Overall, the kiosks cost $180,000, but Crump said it’s a tremendous investment.
“The value of it is going to pay dividends,” he said.
Richmond County Commissioner John Garner echoed everyone’s thoughts and said the new system will help improve tourism internally and externally to those who don’t know what the county has to offer.
“People don’t know that some of these things are in Richmond County, and this is a good tool for that,” he said. “It will boost our image in the state and in the community.”
Chance said now visitors can be educated about area attractions, lodging, events, shopping and services provided by the virtual tour guides, and the system will offer way-finding maps and directions and will give visitors a direct connection to local lodgings and restaurants for ease in making reservations.
“With the increased visibility for area businesses and attraction owners and added advertising package opportunities to showcase their products,” said Chance, “this is a great resource for both travelers and the places they visit.”
Reach reporter Matt Harrelson at 910-817-2674 and follow him on Twitter @mattyharrelson.