Are you an ambassador for Cuba?
From spring into fall, many travelers from all over the U.S. and the world visit Cuba, Missouri. Many of them travel Route 66. Travelers often want to get off the fast pace of the interstate and explore small American towns and what they have to offer. If they pull off the interstate, they may go to the Visitor Center at the 208 exit. Here they will get a welcome and lots of information and news of local events.
But others may stop at a local business for information. Just week, someone from Cuba told me that they were in a local business and a visitor asked what they could find to do in Cuba and if there were any attractions. The clerks laughed and said, “No, this is it.” Luckily, the local customer took over and told the visitor about many of our attractions. I am sure the local clerks just weren’t thinking about the role they play in our town’s tourism and economy. If they were busy, they could have sent the customer to the Visitor Center.
Cuba is lucky to have the murals, the Historic Landmark Wagon Wheel Motel, and the World’s Largest Rocking Chair, great restaurants, and other attractions. We may be a small town, but we have a lot to offer. If they want antiques or resale shops, we’ve got it. Route 66 attractions; we got that too. In season, we have one of the few remaining drive-ins. Those of us who live here shouldn’t take our uniqueness for granted. When travelers buy gas, eat at a local restaurants, or buy something in a shop or grocery store, they are creating waves in our local economy. Sales taxes help pay for streets, lighting, and more.
The staff at the Cuba Free Press often goes out to tourists that they see in front of the paper office looking at their mural and to give them mural brochures and sometimes a local newspaper. Workers at the Washington Street bank will give travelers on the street brochures when they notice them looking at the murals. The workers at the Fanning US66 Outpost General Store tell people who stop off there about the murals, attractions, and restaurants in town. Other businesses do a good job too. Take a little time to answer traveler’s questions or direct them to the Visitor Center if you are busy.
Two or three Saturdays ago, I saw tourists in the historic area. I stopped and talked to them. One group was in a car and driving by murals. While they were stopped by the Civil War Murals, I gave them a mural brochure and talked with them.. They were from Michigan and were getting on and off the highway to visit some Route 66 attractions. They were headed east and had been to the rocker. They asked for a good local place to eat, and I gave them a run down on several local places. I told them we were happy to have them in town. I later saw them park outside Frisco’s.
The next two groups from Canada were traveling together. One was pulling a standard RV, and the other couple had a silver airstream. They had a couple of beautiful shelties too. I gave them brochures, and one woman asked for extra sets because she was a scrap booker and liked to use both the front and back of the brochures. She had been through Cuba earlier and realized that there were more murals finished now. They enjoyed the murals and taking photos to take back home. They asked me to use their camera to take a photo of the group together. They were heading east on Route 66 and planned to stop and see the rocker. People like this send other travelers our way with their photos, their blogs, and word of mouth.
A few brochures and a little conversation created some business in our community and helped spread the word of Cuba beyond our borders. Take a little extra time when you have the opportunity and make someone’s trip more pleasant. Maybe someone will do the same for you some day.
As a local, what would you recommend to a visitor? Do you have out of town guests who enjoy Cuba?
Read “20 Things to Do in Cuba, Missouri” for an idea of some of Cuba’s attractions and activities.