MIAMI, Okla. – The welcome mat for Oklahoma guests on Interstate 44 reopened after a renovation that value greater than $ 1 million.
With new non-contact restrooms and options designed to accommodate social distancing in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic and past, the Northeast Oklahoma Journey Info Heart is situated at mile marker 314 close to the Miami exit. The $ 1 million to $ 1.5 million used for renovations got here when the state used funds from the CARES Act to assist promote the tourism business.
“Our welcome facilities actually function the primary relaxation stops for America’s crossroads,” mentioned Lt. Governor Matt Pinnell. “Guaranteeing they’re secure and hygienic was a public well being precedence for my workplace.”
Pinnell mentioned the renovation challenge, designed in partnership with the Oklahoma Division of Transportation, included COVID-19 adjustments and never COVID-19. Gadgets like signage had been funded by the state division.
“This challenge can even assist higher promote our Oklahoma tourism business, the third-largest business within the state, using greater than 100,000 Oklahomans,” mentioned Pinnell. “The tourism business on this nation will not be in recession; is in an actual despair. We’re excited that these facilities at the moment are significantly better advertising instruments to assist promote the tourism business and our sights throughout the state. “
Celebrating the renovations
Officers from the Miami Conference and Guests Bureau and town staged a grand reopening final week.
Amanda Davis, govt director of Go to Miami OK, mentioned the renovations started about 90 days in the past. They embody contactless entrances to the middle, contactless entrances and fixtures in restrooms, an expanded present store space to permit for social distancing, a canine park, and expanded signage to incorporate a brand new mural on native baseball legend Mickey Mantle.
The middle is operated by the Metropolis of Miami by way of a contract with the state and the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority. Within the days earlier than COVID-19, the middle’s workers obtained greater than 250,000 guests annually.
“The renovations are a profit to us as a result of they’ve made driving downtown a lot extra pleasing,” Davis mentioned. “It is concerning the customer and their expertise. We’re excited to be again within the constructing. “
Davis mentioned she’s notably enthusiastic about one of many renovation’s options: a brand new plaza that features Oklahoma decor and Route 66, designed as a selfie station. Signage encourages individuals to make use of a wide range of hashtags when importing images, together with #MiamiOK, # Route66, #TravelOK, and #OKHereWeGo.
“It is an space the place individuals can get on the market, stretch their legs a bit bit,” Davis mentioned. “We count on to see much more exercise on social media due to this.”
The downtown present store consists of a wide range of “Made in Oklahoma” objects or objects which are unique to the state. Davis mentioned workers inventory a wide range of Oklahoma T-shirts, long-sleeved shirts or hoodies.
Davis hopes the middle will encourage individuals to get off the interstate and drive to Miami to get gasoline, eat or discover lodging. She mentioned the primary merchandise to search for when individuals enter the state is “native ATM,” as they notice that it takes cash to journey down the freeway.
A lot of the middle’s success, he mentioned, relies on phrase of mouth when associates inform different associates about their experiences within the Miami space and all through the Grand Lake area.
“We see it as planting seeds, whereas individuals plan and make their journey selections,” Davis mentioned. “I believe that within the subsequent 60 to 90 days, because the climate improves and extra individuals get the COVID vaccine, they may have extra confidence to journey.”
The middle is open from eight:30 am to four:30 pm every day, permitting workers to do a deep cleansing and disinfecting of the amenities on the finish of every day. A Fb web page, @travelNEOklahoma, promotes particular presents and new merchandise.