OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma’s tourism industry celebrated national tourism and travel week May 4-12 with a variety of activities across the state. Travel and tourism is a $6.2 billion industry for Oklahoma, providing 75,000 jobs and generating $349.5 million in tax revenue for the state treasury (U.S. Travel, based on 2010 figures). Travel employs a broad and diverse workforce, from airline and hotel employees to restaurant, attraction and retail workers. Travel further supports employees in other industry sectors, such as construction, manufacturing and finance.

The Oklahoma Travel Industry Association hosted the annual Redbud Awards on May 6 and several industry partners celebrated with events. Lieutenant Governor Todd Lamb and AAA’s Discover Oklahoma host Jenifer Reynolds handed out the honors at the Redbud Awards. Governor Mary Fallin opened the ceremony with comments on the tourism industry’s impact to the state and introduced the 2013 spring campaign coordinated by the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department.

The week was also marked with celebrations across the state at tourism information centers and other tourism industry partners including the Miami and Norman Convention and Visitors Bureaus.

The Norman Convention and Visitors Bureau hosted its annual luncheon on May 6 recognizing tourism partners in Norman. The Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau partnered with Green Country Marketing Association to provide an appreciation luncheon for the staff of the Miami travel information center.

The Walters tourism information center hosted an event on Saturday where “Hillbilly Handfishin’” star Trent Jackson signed autographs and greeted visitors. Staff from the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge was also on hand to showcase the area to visitors.

The Blackwell tourism information center held events on May 10 with the Blackwell Chamber of Commerce handing out Polish sausage sandwiches and cookies to guests. The Erick tourism information center hosted a weeklong celebration, highlighting area towns with community representatives from Erick, Elk City, Cheyenne, Clinton and Weatherford on hand to promote their area on the appropriate day. Cheyenne Day featured the Washita Battlefield National Historic Site and local representatives from the chambers of commerce and convention and visitors bureaus were on hand throughout the week. The Tom Stafford Museum was also present.

The Oklahoma City TIC had a display from the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. The National Softball Hall of Fame & Museum and Museum of Osteology provided free passes for visitors. Rob Houston with the Enid Convention Visitors Bureau set up a table in the lobby promoting Enid and provided free toffee candy and donuts for guests.

Sallisaw hosted its annual tourism day festival on May 10 with participation from 17 industry partners from across the state. In addition to the industry partners, Tenkiller and Greenleaf State Parks were on hand, as were representatives from the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge.