A NEW DIRECTION FOR THE OKLAHOMA TOURISM DEPARTMENT
February 21, 2006
The Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department (OTRD) preservesnature and promotes tourism. However, every year, the OTRD spends millions of taxpayer dollars on failing enterprises such as golf courses, lodges and resorts that do not necessarily further these purposes.
Since the private sector has more incentive to be profitable, and it can quickly handle recurring maintenance needs, the OTRD should give up control of such entities, says independent public policy consultant Grant Gulibon.
- State golf courses now sell 30 to 38 percent fewer rounds than their competitors due to lagging maintenance of the state courses.
- Oklahoma's state parks currently have more than $88 million in maintenance and infrastructure needs.
- While park appropriations increased 22.7 percent from 2001 to 2004, revenue declined from 2001 to 2004.
Evidently, Oklahoma is coming around, says Gulibon. The legislature plans to:
- Provide leases for private management and development of five golf courses.
- Make 1,500 acres of land available for private development for the Texoma Lodge and Resort.
- Head up the Re-evaluation Assessment and Management Plan (RAMP) task force to study ways to improve the state's park system.
Increasing Oklahoma's private tourism and recreation industry will free up more dollars for tax reductions and stimulate the economy, says Gulibon.
Source: Grant Gulibon, "A New Direction for the State Tourism Department," Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, No. 12, December 2005.
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