By Steve Hansen
QCS Managing Editor
A group of Tucumcari residents with interest in the city’s tourism industry Monday took first steps toward enhancing the city’s appeal to travelers and even making it a tourist destination.
The group assembled at the urging of City Manager Jared Langenegger and included restaurant and motel owners, city officials, business owners, museum organizers and other interested citizens.
After assembling a list of goals group members thought could be accomplished enhancing tourism, the group established three committees for a website, arts and culture and a steering committee to guide future tourism group activities.
Among goals for the city were promoting the city’s murals, its museums, the lakes nearby, establishing walking and bicycle trails around Tucumcari Lake, increasing the number of overnight stays in the city, adding a gas station on Route 66, establishing public restrooms for travelers in the city and updating and increasing signs to promote Tucumcari, and unified promotions of the city’s museums.
“There is lots to see and lots to do here,” Langenegger said.
“Tucumcari is a pearl on the necklace of Route 66,” Kevin Mueller, owner of the Blue Swallow Motel said. “Its status on Route 66 is mythical.”
Participants offered a lot of suggestions on actions that could enhance the city’s tourist trade:
• Yvette Peacock said Route 66 needs a gas station off the east exit from Interstate 40.
• Another participant suggested a horse motel for the city. “There used to be three, and now the last one has shut down,” the participant said.
• Langenegger suggested the possibilities presented by Tucumcari Mountain.
• First District Commissioner Rick Haymaker proposed making the portion of Second Street in the downtown area an arts and cultural district. Haymaker’s music studio and the Northeast New Mexico Arts and Culture Association’s Artspace gallery are already there.
• Patsy Gresham, executive director of the Tucumcari/Quay County Chamber of Commerce, said some establishments, including some restaurants and the museums, should extend their hours to draw visitors who have stopped for the night.
“Eight-to-five doesn’t work in a tourist town,” she said.
• Gresham also suggested the city aggressively market the Tucumcari Convention Center to host more than one or two big events a year.
Participants also addressed a need to tear down abandoned buildings and clean up trash to improve the city’s appearance to out-of-towners.
The group also agreed to meet again at 6:30 p.m. April 13 in City Commission chambers.