By Elizabeth King
Oklahoma travel is on the rise with the help of a new marketing campaign designed to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on Oklahoma’s tourism industry.
Lieutenant Governor Matt Pinnell discussed the #OKHereWeGo campaign and its impact at the Bixby Metro Chamber’s Legislative Luncheon on Sept. 18.
Launched in March, the #OKHereWeGo campaign has brought more than $3 million in sales tax revenue through increased tourism across the state.
Much of this tourism revenue is directly related to the increased travel to Oklahoma state parks and the trail systems. Year-over-year, two million more travelers have visited the state parks in the last four months.
Beavers Bend State Park has seen a 150 percent increase in activity; and with more than 200 lakes and the most diverse fishing in the United States, the Oklahoma Fishing Trail is the most successful tourism trail to date.
“If you want to see America, come to Oklahoma,” said Pinnell.
Thanks to a $48 million bond package, plans are in place to make the Oklahoma state park system one of the top 10 park systems in the country.
Pinnell also addressed the state’s budget shortfall due to the impact of COVID-19 on our economy and the push to diversify business industries to offset the dependency on oil and gas revenue.
One potential growth opportunity is the film and television industry. With an estimated $30 billion projected to be spent on film and television content in 2021, and a shortage of sound stages and filming locations across the country, Oklahoma is primed to attract the entertainment industry with state rebates and sovereign nation incentives.
“We’re bringing new jobs to Oklahoma,” said Pinnell. Already new sound stages have been built in Oklahoma City and more are underway in Tulsa, and partnerships have been created between film institutes and Oklahoma career tech programs to boost the workforce needed for this industry growth.
Much is happening at the state level to build Oklahoma’s economy on multiple fronts. “I firmly believe that Oklahoma is positioned better than most states going into 2021,” Pinnell stated.