Tourism is big business, not just worldwide, but also here in Oklahoma. Research has shown that worldwide one in every 11 people are employed in the travel and tourism industry This industry supports more than 284 million jobs and contributes more than $7.2 trillion to the global economy.
Tourism has that same impact on Oklahoma’s economy and employment. In Oklahoma, travel and tourism directly generates more than 95,000 jobs with a payroll of over $2 billion. Almost 11 percent of the jobs in Oklahoma are directly connected to the travel and tourism industry. For every $1 million spent in Oklahoma by domestic and international travelers, 10.6 jobs are created.
As our state economy continues to improve, we should see continued job growth in the travel and tourism industry. These jobs provide great opportunity for our citizens and they reach every corner of our state. Not only does the industry provide recreation opportunities for Oklahomans, but more importantly, it attracts visitors from other states and countries.
Oklahoma is providing travelers an opportunity to see our state and contribute to our economy. Tourism spending generated $972 million in local, state and federal tax revenue in 2014. State tax revenues attributable to tourism spending are over $350 million annually and have increased 15 percent since 2010. The Gross Domestic Product of the Oklahoma travel industry was $3.2 billion in 2014. The travel industry is the third largest industry in the state, right behind oil and gas, and agriculture.
As Oklahoma's third largest industry, tourism is vital to the state's economy. The state Tourism and Recreation Department markets Oklahoma as a travel destination as well as manages state-owned parks and resorts.
Rural communities feel the fiscal impact of tourism much more than our larger urban markets. The tourism industry is a positive economic engine that helps drive our economy and needs to be supported and protected by the state. The citizens of Kingston and the surrounding area know first-hand how tourism impacts our rural communities.
Over ten years ago, the Pointe Vista group signed a deal with the Land Office to purchase the Lake Texoma State Park and build a massive new development on the lake that would include a four-star hotel. The Texoma lodge was torn down but construction on the new lodge never started. The loss of the lodge and tourism has devastated the Kingston economy. The property has since been taken back by the state and, hopefully, a plan will be developed to restore the lodge and state park.
Tourism, a vital part of our local economy and our area, has an abundance of natural resources and attractions to bring visitors to our area. The sky is the limit when in southern Oklahoma. The outdoor adventurer or a family vacationer can find whatever they want in southern Oklahoma. They can enjoy the wide open spaces. Stay at any of the many campgrounds, hike the trails of the Chickasaw National Recreation Area, enjoy water sports on beautiful Lake Murray, or fish on the Lake of the Arbuckles. Visitors can swim at Turner Falls or ride their ATV at Cross Bar Ranch. There are world-class casinos and plenty of golfing. At the Chickasaw Cultural Center, visitors can learn about the Chickasaw people and their rich history.
Our ideal location, halfway between DFW and Oklahoma City, makes southern Oklahoma the ideal location for those who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of urban life.