Tourism has $5.3 Billion Economic Impact on Oklahoma

Direct travel spending reached more than $5.3 billion in Oklahoma in 2006 – a 7.8 percent increase over the previous year, said officials with the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department and Lt. Gov. Jari Askins.

Askins unveiled the results showing the economic impact of tourism in Oklahoma during the Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Tulsa.

This survey marks the first time that direct domestic travel spending has reached more than $5.3 billion in Oklahoma – an increase of 7.8 percent. Travel-generated employment is also up 4.3 percent with employees earning more than $1.6 billion in payroll income during 2006.

Overall, the survey shows that tourism means big business for Oklahoma.

“From generating tax revenue to employing nearly 72,000 Oklahomans, the travel and tourism industry is a driving economic force for our state,” said Hardy Watkins, executive director of the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department.

The survey concludes that 71,900 jobs were generated by Oklahoma’s tourism industry in 2006 and notes that without the jobs generated by domestic travel, Oklahoma’s 2006 unemployment rate of 4.0 would have been 8.2 percent of the labor force.

On average, every $73,863 spent in Oklahoma by domestic travelers generated one job in 2006.

The survey also noted that domestic spending in Oklahoma generated $842 million in tax revenue for federal, state and local governments in 2006. This is up 4.9 percent from 2005.

Travel expenditures occurred throughout all of the 77 counties in Oklahoma, with 14 counties receiving more than $50 million in domestic travel expenditures in 2006.

Tourism generated more than $1.8 billion in Oklahoma County and more than $1.3 billion in Tulsa County for 2006.

The economic impact study was conducted by the research department of the Travel Industry Association and provides preliminary 2006 estimates of domestic traveler spending, employment, payroll income and state and local tax revenue directly generated through tourism in Oklahoma.

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