Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

Texico visitor center data misleading

 

February 10, 2015

Robert Arrowsmith

link Robert Arrowsmith

CMI Publisher

After a meeting with Department of Tourism representatives last week, it became apparent to me that there is not really a desire to reopen the Texico visitors’ center. But I might be wrong.

The Department of Tourism reported that it costs $90,000 per year to maintain the visitors’ center. It was further reported that the center had approximately 20,000 visitors this past year, of which most were truckers looking for a cup of coffee. This represented the lowest volume of any of the visitor centers in the state.

My thoughts? First of all, to report that the center had 20,000 visitors this past year and use it as an economic indicator is not understanding economic indicators.

The facility was closed for at least six months after the two ladies that worked the center retired. You have no idea how the center would have performed the other half of the year.

As for the highest percentage of visitors being truckers … have you been out there? I won’t go out on a tangent on this, but will say simply: no signage, and weigh station proximity.

The Department of Tourism made it clear several times that all options were on the table for alternate facilities and asked if the Chamber of Commerce would consider working on other advertising ideas with the $90,000 this year that would encourage travelers to come to local businesses, including a possible promotional setup in a local business.

Does that not sound like an attempt to negotiate? That maybe the facility is not in the best interest of the Department of Transportation?

But here was the kicker of the meeting. Sen. Stu Ingle, R-Portales, reported to the group that the Department of Transportation is trying to get more checkpoints, stating that an additional $50 million in revenue can be obtained. Guess what? It came out that the Department of Transportation actually owns the visitors’ center and the Department of Tourism actually leases the building from the Department of Transportation.

By the way, Department of Tourism did not come out with this, Rep. Pat Woods, R-Broadview, did, and then the Department confirmed.

Now the pieces are in place. Department of Transportation owns the visitors’ center that just happens to be less than 1,000 feet from the checkpoint that it runs.

Tourism is looking to rid itself of $90,000 in expense that it has to pay to another department. Tourism tries to negotiate options, and repeatedly states that all options are on the table including using the facility for other purposes.

The visitors’ center is spun to suggest only truckers are using it anyway, when the signage for the center is virtually non-existent to tourists or travelers, and completely gone once the building closed this past summer.

So Karl Terry and Ernie Kos, I believe it is time to work on the negotiation that was initially offered and build from there. And Department of Transportation will have its new building.

As for the visitors’ center? We hardly knew you.

Robert Arrowsmith is publisher of Clovis Media Inc. Contact him at: [email protected]

 

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