Silicon Valley tech companies have become 'hot spots' for tourism

CUPERTINO, Calif. (KGO) -- The wait is finally over for Apple fanatics! The company opened its brand new Visitor Center in Cupertino Friday morning with customers traveling from near and far to be among the first inside.

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The Apple Visitor Center opened to the public in Cupertino Friday morning, and ABC7 News' Chris Nguyen gave us a sneak peek at the new building.

Officials say the Visitor Center, which is located on North Tantau Avenue on the eastern end of the campus, cost $108 million to build.

Customers can shop at an on-site store with merchandise exclusive to this specific location, as well as enjoy a cup of coffee or snack at the café.

There's also a section where people can experience an augmented reality view of Apple Park using iPads. The model weighs more than 11,000 lbs. and is made out of aluminum and metal.

Visitors can make their way upstairs to the Visitor Center's rooftop for a better look at 'The Ring' - Apple's new corporate headquarters - which is powered with renewable energy mainly from solar panels. The four-story structure has space for nearly 12,000 Apple employees.

The Visitor Center will likely become one of Silicon Valley's top tourist attractions, according to Dr. Tsu-Hong Yen, chair of the Hospitality, Tourism and Event Management department at San Jose State University. He says 'tech tourism' is becoming more of a thing as visitors aim to connect with companies face-to-face as opposed to online experiences.

ABC7 News spoke to one couple from France who stopped by the Visitor Center while on their honeymoon. Another person came from Brazil to witness the grand opening festivities.

According to Yen, travelers from Asian and European countries are more likely to take selfies or pictures in front of corporate signs such as Apple, Google and Facebook, as a way to prove to their friends and family back home that they visited these storied Silicon Valley campuses while on vacation.
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