Our Forgotten Economic Engine: Tourism
by Matt Pinnell

“What does the Lt Governor do?”

I get asked that often. Along with sitting on a number of boards and commissions, the Lt. Governor serves as the Chairman of the Tourism Commission. Therefore, one of the most important jobs the LG has is to promote the state.

For every dollar we spend on tourism advertising we get seven dollars back. Where else in government do we get a 7-1 return on our investment? In Oklahoma, that means hundreds-of-millions of dollars in revenue on the line. It is serious business, and the Lt. Governor should be daily involved in it. We have to play to our strengths, and tourism is one of those strengths.

As Spring Break comes and goes, and Summer is on the horizon, we must remember that people will spend their tourism dollars elsewhere if we aren’t selling all the great things we have to offer in Oklahoma. Yes, I’m talking about valuable recurring revenue for our state.

I’m all in. So much so that I took my family across our state this past week in an RV (RV sales at an all-time high by the way) to show off some of the amazing places we have to offer. The trip further reinforced to me what an opportunity we have in Oklahoma.

We visited Broken Bow, Chickasaw National Recreation Area, Turner Falls, Roman Nose State Park, Eischen’s Bar, Osage Hills State Park, the Grand Lake area, Pawhuska, and the most lucrative tourism road in the country: Route 66. What was common among all these places? Businesses were being created and the communities were thriving. Tourism is an economic engine.

Will tourism alone fix our education problem? No, but it sure can help.

We currently generate over $650 million in state and local tax revenue off tourism, and it’s the third largest industry in our state. I firmly believe if we get serious about promoting this state we could generate far more revenue.

Oklahoma is an amazing state. The crossroads of America with tourist destinations in every direction. Those destinations are economic development engines, and I look forward to preaching that as your next Lt. Governor.

Matt Pinnell is a Republican candidate for Lt. Governor. He and his wife Lisa own and operate a small business in the Tulsa area. For more about Matt visit www.MattPinnell.com