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As the CDC Warns Against Travel, Oklahoma Tries to Lure Tourists

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Ahead of Thanksgiving, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended postponing holiday travel to avoid catching COVID-19, and that advice stands.

The same day the CDC made that announcement in mid-November, the state of Oklahoma launched a new tourism ad campaign featuring Gov. Kevin Stitt in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri and Texas, and on digital platforms.

"Today, we all need a place that offers hope. Oklahoma is open to the challenge. We are open with new, exciting places to explore safely. We’re open with amazing meals in safe surroundings. We’re open to living, learning and dreaming under wide-open skies," Stitt says in the ad, which shows destinations across the state. "I’m Gov. Kevin Stitt from the great state of Oklahoma. I’d like to extend an open invitation to unexpected adventures, because here in Oklahoma, the possibilities are wide open."

As of Monday morning, a YouTube video of that ad had more than 117,000 views.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-DOWELF8ew

The governor’s office said the campaign was in motion before the CDC updated its travel guidance and that the state’s $9.6 billion tourism industry has been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

Oklahoma used to require some out-of-state visitors to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival but no longer has travel restrictions. People entering the state from areas with substantial community spread are advised to wear masks and limit participating in indoor gatherings for 10 to 14 days.

Stitt often encourages people to take precautions like wearing masks and social distancing, but his response to the pandemic has prioritized reopening businesses to the full extent and keeping them open.

This weekend, Forbes ranked Oklahoma as the ninth-riskiest state to visit during Christmas, citing the lack of a statewide mask mandate and high infection and test positivity rates as risk factors. 

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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