(Asheboro, N.C. - May 22, 2020) Amber Scarlett, Interim CEO of the Heart of North Carolina Visitor Bureau, says the visitor centers located on I-73/74 at Seagrove, N.C. will reopen on Saturday, May 23, 2020 at 8:30 am. The I-73/74 Visitor Centers are staffed and operated by the Randolph County Tourism Development Authority which operates the Heart of North Carolina Visitors Bureau in cooperation with the N.C. Department of Transportation. The I-73/74 Visitor Centers were closed on March 18, 2020.
“We are ready to welcome the traveling public back into our area with an eye on safety,” Amber Scarlett says. Visitors spent more than $153 million in Randolph County in 2018 on tourism, providing more than 1000 jobs across the county, according to “The Economic Impact of Travel on North Carolina Counties,” a study prepared for Visit North Carolina by the U.S. Travel Association.
The destination is known as the home of the North Carolina Zoo; Seagrove, the Pottery Capital of the USA and Petty Family Attractions. Some destinations are open during Phase 2 in North Carolina; others are not. Call the visitor center at (800) 626-2672 before traveling to confirm openings. Some shops and businesses are open to the public now. Restaurants are providing varying degrees of service.
Scarlett invites travelers to explore with a spirit of flexibility and respect. “It will take all of us working together—the traveling public and our dedicated staff members—to make travel as safe and enjoyable as possible. None of us have done this before. There is no guidebook. We will make changes in real-time and as quickly as possible to meet the needs of our guests, our team and the travel partners and destinations we serve.”
A Focus on Safety
Scarlett says her team has relied on guidance from the North Carolina Welcome Centers and research from tourism industry leaders to determine best practices for opening the visitor centers. New safety measures and guidelines will be in place at each location for the protection of visitors and staff members:
- Staff members have been divided into two groups; one team will be focused on the Northbound location and one on the Southbound location. This separation will prevent cross-contamination if a visitor center staff member becomes sick.
- Only one visitor center will be open each day.
- Employees will receive temperature checks each day prior to work and answer questions about symptoms and whether they’ve been exposed to anyone with COVID-19.
- Procedures are in place to handle any positive results.
- Staff members will wear personal protective equipment (PPE) including washable face masks and disposable gloves.
- A plexiglass germ shield has been installed at the front counters of the visitor centers.
- Additional cleaning supplies will support a rigorous sanitation schedule.
- Additional new signage will advise visitors of safety protocols in place, including building sanitation, social distancing, PPE usage, etc.
- During Phase 2, only ten people will be allowed in a visitor center at a time. Protocols are in place for the visitor center team to act as greeters if the need is greater. They will meet guests outside with information packets and establish a line with social distancing in place.
- Staff members have been trained on new best practices for visitor interactions, brochure distribution, and more.
- Travelers are asked to avoid contact with the visitor center staff if they are sick, running a temperature, or have been exposed to someone with coronavirus.
- Bathrooms and vending machines will be open and available separate from the visitor center building.
New I-73/74 Visitor Center Hours, starting May 23:
- Friday, Saturday, Sunday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.
- Monday to Thursday from 9 am to 4 pm.
- Additional lawn signage and lights on in the building will indicate which center (Northbound or Southbound) is open on what day.
About The Heart of North Carolina Visitors Bureau
The Randolph County Tourism Development Authority operates the Heart of North Carolina Visitors Bureau, the official destination marketing organization for Randolph County, representing Archdale, Asheboro, Franklinville, Ramseur, Randleman, Seagrove, Staley, and Trinity. For more information, visit www.heartofnorthcarolina.com. To order a free 2020 Heart of North Carolina Travel Guide with special offers and discounts, visit https://bit.ly/FREETravelGuide.