Key Speaker

The Honorable Tom Cole

U.S. Representative (OK-04)

Key Topics

  • Economic Impact of Travel Industry
  • Tourism Promotion/Brand USA
  • International Visitation
  • National Parks
  • Infrastructure

Discussion Summary

Congressman Cole was very appreciative of the meeting and commented several times how he had a roundtable specifically focused on travel to Oklahoma. After a sobering account of prospects for legislative success for the remainder of the year by the Congressman, the group provided economic impact data. The local chamber discussed how tourism is the states 3rd largest industry, the NPS director talked about how more people are visiting parks, and the state office of economic development shared that the area has invested $250 million into the area to improve visitation.

The conversation then turned to tourism promotion. Several attendees talked about how partnerships with Brand USA has led to greater ability to promote travel. The Congressman agreed to join the bill on the spot.

International visitation came up next, and most attendees were surprised to learn that the largest share of international visitors to the area came from Australia. Rep. Cole told a story about taking a group to visit the grave of Geronimo.

The National Park director shared that park visitation had been flat and mostly local, raising concern that maintenance issues were causing visitors to overlook smaller and regional parks for larger more popular parks. 


  • Debra Bailey, Oklahoma Restaurants
  • Mita Bates, Ardmore Chamber of Commerce
  • Will Brown, U.S. Travel Association
  • Angel Green, Chickasaw Country
  • Tom Graham, City of Davis
  • Tera Mullens, Chickasaw Country Marketing Association
  • Stacy Moore, Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
  • Brooke Miller, Great Plains Country Association
  • Dan Schemm, VisitNorman
  • Paige Shepherd, Chickasaw Country
  • Valorie Walters, Chickasaw Cultural Center
  • Justin Williams, Artesian
  • Shana Wood, Ada Chamber of Commerce
  • Bill Wright, National Park Service

* Background photo courtesy of Chickasaw Cultural Center

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