Booming tourist activity at OKC


The Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau’s Fiscal Year 2021 report shows the city fared better over the past year than many comparable cities. Mayor David Holt said tourism is emerging as a major new sector of Oklahoma City’s economy. (Courtesy photo / CVB)

OKLAHOMA CITY – Tourism is emerging as a major new sector of the city’s economy, Mayor David Holt said this week during his State of the City address.

“The economy of Oklahoma City visitors is something that barely existed a quarter of a century ago, but it is now a major aspect of life in Oklahoma City,” said Holt. “Oklahoma City is no longer just a place to sleep if you drive from Little Rock to Albuquerque. It is really becoming a destination for meetings and tourists.

The city is strongly positioned to recover from the pandemic and gain market share going forward, Zac Craig, president of the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau, said in the CVB Fiscal Year 2021 report.

“As you know, Fiscal 21 has been a tumultuous one for the hospitality industry,” said Craig. “Our city held up better last year than many of our peer cities.”

Despite the pandemic, hotel tax collection generated more than $ 4 million in the fiscal year ended June 30 – 34% more than the target of $ 3 million – with an impact direct estimated spending of $ 259 million, he reported.

In the first three months of fiscal 2022, hotel tax receipts replaced the same period from 2019. “So you can see the resilience of the hotel community as we fight and move on. ‘before,’ Craig said.

“Our city and industry leaders have worked together to safely host annual and new sporting events for horses, livestock and youth that have had a significant economic impact at a time when convention travel, d ‘business and group were interrupted,’ he said.

Conventions and sporting events accounted for 194,763 total overnight stays and an economic impact of $ 131,150,604, both ahead of forecast.

Fourteen horse and animal exhibitions organized throughout the pandemic represented 136,356 overnight stays and direct expenses estimated at more than 127 million dollars.

In-person convention activity is back with the new Oklahoma City convention center scheduled to host 10 conventions, conferences and events in the first three weeks of November. The $ 288 million facility – the largest MAPS project ever – opened in March.

“This will attract national meetings that we have never been able to host in the past, and we plan to enter many new national rotations over the next decade,” said Holt. “Combined with the new Omni, Scissortail park across the street and the tram to connect this resort to the rest of downtown, we’ve truly built the country’s best meeting destination for a city our size.”

He mentioned more than a dozen sporting events and attractions that draw people to Oklahoma City, including the Women’s College World Series and the new First Americans Museum which opened in September.

“It took three long decades to reach that moment, and expectations were high for this $ 175 million facility. He exceeded all of those expectations, ”said Holt. “And I truly believe that the creation of this one-of-a-kind place makes Oklahoma City a national and international capital for Indigenous and Indigenous peoples.”

The development of a $ 300 million complex next to the museum, announced by the Chickasaw Nation last month, will attract more new tourists and gatherings from across the country and around the world, he said.

“More and more, visitors will be part of our daily lives. And sometimes visitors turn into residents. Our population growth speaks for itself, ”said Holt.

The 2020 census shows Oklahoma City is the 22nd largest city in the United States – with 681,000 residents – and the sixth fastest growing large city.

“I celebrate population growth as validation that we are doing things right. And we have a lot to celebrate, ”said Holt. “I really believe that we are just getting started and that this growth is not going to diminish anytime soon. “

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