May 2020: COVID-19, a name that will not be forgotten for a long time, has brought tourism to a screeching halt. Spring is one of the busiest times in Claremore with numerous events; sports by RSU, our high schools and recreation leagues; graduations, reunions and weddings…except for this year.
COVID-19 is and has been devastating-killing our residents or making them very ill for an extended amount of time. It has changed the way we communicate, the way we shop, the way we celebrate, the way we gather and the way we entertain.
Enjoy dining in our hometown.
We are all trying to stay safe and healthy and our team at Visit Claremore encourages you to continue, but maybe it is time to get out a little? No one wants to put a dollar amount on the devastation of COVID-19, but as the director of Visit Claremore and the Claremore Expo Center, I can give you an estimate of what it has meant to our hospitality and tourism partners in Claremore and in Rogers County. Tourism leaders across the state and the nation work together to formulate positive impact from visitor spending. It is adjusted every year as inflation or prices go down and is adjusted to reflect our area. Visitors coming to Claremore spend less, on average, than they would if they were in Oklahoma City, Tulsa or another large metropolitan, so we adjust it to give us a truer dollar amount spent.
On March 16, the City of Claremore and Emergency Managers issued an Emergency Order closing down all activities of groups more than 10 people. Well, at the Expo Center, most of our events are more than 1,000, so needless to say, multiple events were canceled. Without having an idea of how long this would last, or if it was even possible to postpone & reschedule, these events were just canceled. From the end of March through the middle of June, various community and special events haven’t or will not happen.
In 7.5 weeks of losing these events, the community lost more than $1.895 million in visitor spending. These dollars are spent in our restaurants, our shops, museums, gas stations/convenience stores, hotels and RV Parks. Our businesses have adjusted hours, closed dining rooms and entered the “curbside” amenity; they have done what they could continue doing business. Our residents, relatives and friends have lost jobs; employers lost loyal and trusted employees and at times, lost hope.
Now more than ever, our friends, family and community need us. Our city and county governments need us. Our hospitality and tourism partners, retailers and attractions need us. We need to be tourists in our town. Try something new, maybe a new restaurant, or visit one of our world-class museums and buy something from the gift shop, even a trinket; it will mean the world to them.
Downtown Main Street, Will Rogers Blvd, is host to a variety shops and restaurants catering to every interest.
Weren’t able to celebrate that special occasion because COVID-19 shut everything down? Why not make a reservation at one of our great hotels in town and have that night out on the town? They offer great amenities and have been open this entire time, serving our corporate partners and a few travelers on their way somewhere. You can find a complete list of Claremore’s hotels at www.visitclaremore.org, along with their contact information and the amenities they each offer.
The many businesses in town, whether local or chain, need our support more now than ever. Supporting local doesn’t just mean support a non-chain establishment. It means support local-right here. Don’t venture to Tulsa or Owasso to have that first “dinner out.” Try one of our great restaurants that provide our local residents a job, which in turn comes back into the community. They have a job and therefore have money to buy groceries in town, which also provides another job…. a chain reaction. Our local businesses are amongst the most generous anywhere in the state of Oklahoma. They support our kid’s baseball team, our families wedding, they sponsor our events, make donations to help those in need, volunteer in just about everything in town, and they do it because they love Claremore. They love our residents and our community.
The City of Claremore, Board of County Commissioners, Claremore Industrial & Economic Development Authority, Claremore Chamber of Commerce, Claremore Main Street and Visit Claremore are here to help. We want our business partners to tell us how we can help, and we want to provide the latest information on businesses reopening and how they are handling the new “norm.” We are asking our media partners to assist in sharing the information. It may take a while before our tourists come back, so in the meantime, we are working on some great ideas on how we can each “Be a Tourist in Claremore.” More information will be coming soon, but you can always go to www.visitclaremore.org or www.claremore.org for any information you might be seeking.
Some of us are scared, or maybe some are cautiously optimist like me, but I believe we can all do this together and safely. Let’s do this, Claremore. Let’s reopen our businesses, show our support, spend our money locally. But of course, be safe and stay healthy!
Tanya Andrews is the director of the Claremore Expo & Tourism Development. She has held the position of Executive Director of Visit Claremore since 2005 and continued on when the department merged with the Expo Center in 2015. She is a Certified Travel Industry Specialist by the American Bus Assn., board member of both, Green Country Marketing Assn. and Oklahoma Travel Industry Assn., and is a Preferred Professional Travel Partner with the Travel Alliance Partners. Tanya is active in local, regional, state and national tourism associations. She is passionate about Claremore and puts her heart into its growth and quality of life.
See more about Shopping Local Speeds Economic Recovery: