Posted on: February 15, 2016

Studies Show Economic Impact of Oklahoma Tourism at All-Time High


Governor Mary Fallin announced that three major research studies on the impact of tourism in Oklahoma show direct travel spending reached an all-time high of $8.9 billion in 2014.

That figure makes travel and tourism the third-largest industry in the state.

“Oklahoma has experienced a tremendous growth in tourism and recreation businesses, destinations and sites which greatly enhance not only our ability to attract visitors and improve Oklahomans’ quality of life but also creates jobs and revenue for our state,” said Fallin. “The money spent at these scenic spots and recreation destinations is a boon for local communities and the state of Oklahoma.”

The studies commissioned by the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department revealed that nearly 20.9 million travelers visited the state in 2014.

Visitor spending in Oklahoma generated $972 million in tax revenue, including $366 million for state government. That is a 15 percent increase over 2010.

The studies also showed that the tourism department’s most recent advertising campaign, which encourages visitors to “Come See for Yourself,” has had a return on investment of 7-to-1 in generating state and local taxes, said Executive Director Dick Dutton.

Dutton said the most exciting finding in the studies was the impact tourism advertising has on economic development.

“When out-of-state residents had viewed our tourism advertising and then visited the state, they were dramatically more likely to see Oklahoma as a good place to live, start a career and start a business,” said Dutton. “Thus, a dual purpose of tourism marketing is realized. It has a positive impact on the state’s image as a destination for leisure travel and recreation, while also enhancing Oklahoma’s ability to attract business investment.”

Full reports, a research summary infographic, and link to a Travel Impacts Interactive Website are available at

Highlights of the research studies findings include the following:

Economic Impact study – Dean Runyan Associates found that total direct travel spending in Oklahoma in 2014 was $8.9 billion, making tourism the third largest industry in the state behind oil and natural gas and agriculture. More than 95,000 jobs and $2 billion in payroll in Oklahoma are supported due to travel spending. Tourism spending generated $972 million in local, state and federal tax revenue in 2014. State tax revenues attributable to tourism spending at $366 million have increased 15 percent since 2010.

Visitor Volume and Profile study – TNS established that 20,866,000 travelers visited Oklahoma in 2014. This represents an increase of 2.4 million, or 12.8 percent, compared to 2010.
Advertising Accountability (ROI) and Image Awareness study – Longwoods International found that Oklahoma’s tourism marketing program attracted 1.22 million new visitors to Oklahoma with its first six months of advertising in 2015. These are visitors who would not have come to the state were it not for the advertising. These visitors spent approximately $205 million in Oklahoma, which resulted in $15.5 million in state and local taxes or a return on investment (ROI) of 7:1. This represents a 4:1 ROI for state taxes and a 3:1 ROI for local tax revenues.

Longwoods International also established that tourism advertising not only has a positive impact on consumers’ image of Oklahoma as a destination for leisure travel and recreation, but their research shows that advertising awareness and subsequent visitation combine to provide a sizeable lift on six key economic development image ratings. This is known as the “Halo Effect.”

For each of the six attributes studied, Oklahoma’s score increased with advertising awareness and visitation. When out-of-state residents had viewed OTRD’s tourism advertising and then visited the state, they were dramatically more likely to see Oklahoma as a good place to live, start a career, and start a business. Thus, the importance of tourism marketing for economic development purposes is seen. It impacts the state’s national image and enhances Oklahoma’s ability to attract business investment.

For more information about these studies, contact:

Kim Caplinger, director of public policy and research for Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department

(405) 522-9555 or

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