Economic Development through Oklahoma Wine Tourism

Mary Fallin Thinks High Gasoline Prices Boost Tourism

With high gas prices prompting Americans to travel shorter distances for vacation, things seem to be going Oklahoma's way, according to Lt. Gov. Mary Fallin. See the full article by David Zizzo, writing for The (Daily) Oklahoman.

Fallin said Oklahoma being centrally located and at the crossroads of major interstate highways makes it a prime spot for tourism activity. She said communities and regions across the state should recognize and capitalize on the potential for economic development through tourism.

While I'm glad to hear one of Oklahoma's oh-so 'business friendly' Republicans talking about Oklahoma Tourism development...it sure would have been nice to get more than more lame lip service. Here's a news flash for Oklahoma leaders interested in something that would actually help Oklahoma tourism. The state can do some things to help... other than subsidizing facilites for multi-million dollar corporations.

The Oklahoma wine industry today consists primarily of small family businesses that pay their taxes, support their local communities and finance THEIR OWN operations. Instead of doling out taxpayer money and massive tax breaks to Big Business Beggars like Bass Pro...let's talk about some fairly low cost ways the state government could improve the tourism environment in Oklahoma.

Mapping Oklahoma Tourism Attractions

Oklahoma wineries and wine tourism enthusiasts need detailed maps and highway signage to help drivers find attractions like Oklahoma wineries. However, most Oklahoma winery owners I have spoken to complained that Oklahoma government entities, like the Department of Tourism, offer no mapping assistance and huge obstacles to even purchasing highway signage.

The state of Oklahoma has already purchased the equipment and hired the mappers and creates maps of the state regularly. The costs of creating accurate, detailed statewide tourism attraction maps would be minimal. Distribution costs would be happily born by the wineries themselves, if they had access to the maps.

Reform Clueless Winery Regulations

Oklahoma state law requires every winery to regularly mail their price list to a massive list of, mostly invalid, liquor store addresses. The idea is to give each liquor retailer an equal opportunity to purchase. This is especially ironic since the vast majority have no interest in carrying Oklahoma wines and even if they did, they probably wouldn't purchase from the type of direct mail campaign that the state requires.

If the state is interested in getting the word out to Oklahoma liquor stores they could (a) develop a list of valid mailing addresses based on retailer tax records, (b) drop the pointless requirement entirely or (c) host the price lists online and allow for emailed submissions from the wineries.

Improve Our Oklahoma Roads and Bridges

Substandard Oklahoma roads and bridges cost Oklahoma drivers $1,053 each year - $2.3 billion statewide - in diminished safety, longer delays and increased vehicle wear. Oklahoma collected more than $984 million in state motor fuel and vehicle taxes in 2001, but less than 20 percent of it went to the Department of Transportation for maintenance of state roads and bridges, according to a study conducted last year by the Oklahoma Transportation Center at Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma.

Most Oklahoma wineries and vineyards are rural operations. Ask them, if high gasoline prices have improved the bottom line for their businesses. Mary Fallon's Republican optimism fits well with the Bush Administration who recently directed the USDA to change their definition of fresh vegetables to include frozen french fries!

NewsOK.com - Gasoline prices boost tourism, Fallin says

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