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Local & Regional

Tulsa Route 66 Commission to Focus on Tourism First

Route 66 News

The new commission charged with promoting business and tourism along Route 66 in Tulsa met for the first time Tuesday.

The 15-member Tulsa Route 66 Commission established five standing committees. Newly elected commission chair Ken Busby said starting out, their marketing committee's work will be the most important because it will concentrate on tourism.

"One of the things that we know is happening right now, certainly for our national and especially our international visitors, is they're bypassing Tulsa," Busby said. "They're coming through from Claremore to Catoosa, and then they're getting on I-44 and continuing on it, and then maybe getting off in Oklahoma City. And so they're really missing this jewel that is Tulsa."

Councilor Connie Dodson is one of five councilors on the commission. She said better signage is probably the best way to let them know Route 66 does indeed run through Tulsa.

"Not only signage in Tulsa, but maintaining the signage that is clearly being done so much better from Saint Louis down," Dodson said. "And then you get to Oklahoma, and it stops."

According to the Oklahoma Tourism Department, less than two percent of its Route 66 brochures handed out this year went to international visitors.

The commission has $200,000 a year to work with for 15 years from Vision Tulsa. Dodson and Busby said that's not a lot for a 24-mile stretch of the Mother Road.

"Really focusing on ways that we can make a real impact with the money that we do have and improve Route 66 for all of our residents and all of the visitors to our city is going to be critical," Busby said.

The commission's expenditures must be approved by the city council.