Visitor center

The Chamber of Commerce-operated visitor center in Nogales was expected to close in July.

The Nogales Visitor Center was still open to tourists last week, more than a month after a manager said that the center would close.

In June, the city council passed a tentative budget that did not include a $50,000 payment that the city had made in recent years to the Nogales-Santa Cruz County Chamber of Commerce, which operates the visitor center.

Chamber president and CEO Olivia Ainza-Kramer said that the lost funding would force her organization to close the center and cut its lone employee.

“Now, by losing the $50,000, we are going to be eliminating the position,” she said at the time, “and we are going to be closing the visitor center, so anytime that any visitor comes in, where are they going to be directed? Who’s going to help them?”

Ainza-Kramer told the NI that the center, which she previously said received 7,251 visitors in 2018, would close on July 1.

The city council received criticism over the budget, with some residents suggesting that cuts to the chamber of commerce, as well as the local port authority, showed that the city was not investing in economic development.

But on Wednesday, July 31, greeter Maggie Gallego was behind the counter and a list on the counter showed several visitors who had signed in after visiting during the week.

Gallego said that the center had closed for a summer vacation for two weeks at the beginning of July and then re-opened for regular summer hours from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., Monday through Thursday.

“We do the same thing that we used to do,” she said.

Ainza-Kramer told the NI last week that the visitor center’s future was uncertain.

“We are working on other strategies (to) keep the visitor center operating along with employing Maggie Gallego,“ she said via email.

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