The Gloucester Visitor Information Center has a crucial need for additional volunteers, tourism coordinator Hilton Snowdon said Monday.
The center is staffed by volunteers for two, three-hour long shifts (10 a.m.-1 p.m. and 1-4 p.m.) Monday-Saturday and one, three-hour shift (1-4 p.m.) each Sunday. However, as of Monday, Snowdon said he faces 16 vacant shifts for March.
In recent weeks, Snowdon said, he’s lost several regular volunteers because of health issues to themselves or relatives. In addition, he’s lost a few volunteers this time of year who spend the winter in Florida.
As of Monday, Snowdon was down to 19 volunteers—and that’s even with adding two volunteers during the last couple of months.
The visitor center has attracted approximately 4,000 visitors each of the past two years, Snowdon said. One of the busiest times of the year is December, when many people visit family in Gloucester for the holidays. Volunteers serve as community ambassadors, handing out maps and providing information about Gloucester to visitors from throughout the U.S. and abroad.
The tight economy has hurt gift shop sales, Snowdon said, and he is planning to change the product mix at the center in an attempt to boost sales. And rising gasoline prices don’t help, he said, since some volunteers drive 25 miles and more round trip to man one or more shifts each month.