OVERFLOWING with gratitude. Members of the Davis community had the chance to hear the Lieutenant Governor Matt Pinnell speak about the tourism industry in Oklahoma and hear his insight into last year’s $10.2 billion dollar money maker for the state. The Lt. Governor toured Turner Falls and Cross Bar OffRoad Park after the meeting.
By Alisha Thompson
Last year was the best year for the state of Oklahoma’s tourism industry with $10.2 billion coming into the state from it’s third largest money maker. While Lt. Governor Matt Pinnell credits the stellar year in part to the state not shutting down for Covid and not telling “a momma bear that she can’t take her four cubs for a walk in the woods” (a joke about not closing state parks) he knows that Oklahoma has unique offerings for tourists.
Executive Director of the Davis Chamber of Commerce Brandy Baldwin opened the meeting by saying “The chamber’s primary mission is to organize and conduct activities that generate a direct economic benefit to its membership and maintain improve the quality of life in the community. Tourism is the huge part of that venture for us. With amazing natural resources and wildly recognized businesses like Turner Falls, Cross Bar Off Road Park, Deer Creek Outdoors and Arbuckle Fried Pies.” She continued with. “Our area is a hot spot throughout the summer season. With several additions and improvements over the years and more on the way. Our region promises to continue to being a mere destination location.”
The state of Oklahoma offers a unique perspective for tourist with its native heritage, outdoor destinations and National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. “Every Lt. Governor is the chairman of the Tourism Commission. It’s in the State Statute. When I got elected I asked the Governor to be the Secretary of Tourism and I’m the first person to ever hold that role,” said the Lt. Governor. “That’s something he didn’t have to do and I give him props for that.
He said over the last five years, he’s been tenacious about seeing small businesses grow in the state and build the tourism industry. “Our tourism industry is one of the most natural strengths of our state,” said the Lt. Governor. “All I ask is that the budget to promote our state isn’t reduced.”
Davis is on the Oklahoma Fishing Trail. For every dollar spent promoting the Oklahoma Fishing Trail $98 is returned by someone fishing in Oklahoma. For every dollar spent from advertising dollars spent advertising the state of Oklahoma $7 are spent in our state by someone visiting.
The Lt. Governor knows Davis needs help promoting Turner Falls and Cross Bar Offroad Park. He suggested a marketing campaign. He suggested working with Sulphur, Ardmore and the Chickasaw Nation on marketing strategies similar to what Stillwater and McCurtain County are doing.
He also suggested looking into the working toward opening a youth sports complex. Big enough to host traveling sports for multiple games and towns. “Traveling sports are recession proof,” said the Lt. Governor. “At the end of the day it’s about quality of life and it’s about sales.”
After the lunch the Lt. Governor hopped on a tour bus and toured Turner Falls learning about updates with the park. He offered suggestions and gave information for upgrades and updates. After that tour he jumped in a jeep with Cross Bar Offroad Park Manager Justin Ramsey for a tour of the Park.
The Lt. Governor said that his family enjoys this area and rented RVs while campaigning here. He reminded those in attendance to call his office and ask for brainstorming and white boarding sessions for tourism and economic growth sessions. He said he feels so much more useful in person than in a group setting that behind a desk in Oklahoma City.