Mineral Wells is well on its way to becoming a destination city, despite some recent effects from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some of those efforts were recognized recently at the state level, including the Mineral Wells Virtual Gateway that received first place in local awareness by the Texas Association of Convention and Visitor Bureaus.
The online project was unveiled during the early quarantine period as a way promote tourism, entertain families and remind locals what is available in Mineral Wells.
"It turned out to be a very, very great thing," Mineral Wells Chamber of Commerce President Raymond Greenwood said.
The city also nabbed a third place award for tourism and branding for its "Greetings from Mineral Wells" postcard promotion.
The TACVB, shifting from an in-person annual conference to a virtual format, also chose Mineral Wells for a virtual historic tour.
"We filmed that in several places and the end result was around 160 people toured virtually," Greenwood said. "Of those that viewed it, including the governor's office of economic development and tourism, Texas Monthly and Texas Highways, we had some pretty influential people that made our tour."
The tour provided five different sections of Mineral Wells — founding history, military history, the "other" crossroads of America, the Crazy sign and the Welcome sign. Some of the footage was obtained by drones, and may be used in the future. The videos are expected to be on the city's YouTube channel soon, Greenwood said.
The city was featured on two episodes of Expedition Texas, which aired on channel CW33.
At a recent city council meeting, Greenwood highlighted some of the recent things his office has been able to accomplish within the last year.
As part of helping make tourism spots more visible, the chamber replaced all existing signage and added two more signs to direct the public to the new Fossil Park.
In October 2019, the park hosted the Crazy Fossil Dig, which drew in several hundred visitors.
"Most people that came were from the DFW area, but there were some from all over, even Australia," Greenwood said. "[The park] used to be very difficult to find, but now we've got the signage to guide you there."
In May, the park celebrated its 10th birthday.
The chamber has also been making its base more visitor-friendly, with a revamp of the chamber front office.
"We tried to make it a little more like a visitor's center," Greenwood said. "We had our office furniture repainted and fixtures for brochures, which makes it a little more inviting."
The racks were repurposed and spread out to different locations, including the airport, Jessie's Drive-in and Magpie Inn.
In late January, the Mineral Wells chamber rolled out a new program called the Texas Friendly Hospitality and Customer Service Training.
The training began with businesses in the food industry.
"We think that's one of the first lines of communication with visitors," Greenwood said. "We were going to train some individuals that would work with other businesses to help train their staff and become more proficient at customer service.
"We had plans to do it throughout the year and those plans got thwarted by COVID."
One tourism project that is still in progress is a new visitor map and tour app.
The interactive map will include a community events calendar, points of interest, attractions, local weather and traffic, to name a few.
"For a long time, we've wanted to have trails and historical tours around town," Greenwood said. "Now we can put that on the app, so if you're a person that wants to bike a new trail, you can pull that up on your phone. Same thing with historical tours."
All of the projects were done using last year's budget and the city council approved the 2020-21 tourism budget last week.
"It looks like you've done a remarkable job despite COVID-19 issues," Mayor Tammy Underwood said. "It looks like we're getting caught up with the times."
For more information on projects, visit the Mineral Wells chamber site at mineralwellstx.com.