Tulsa Regional Tourism has been approved for $75,000 in virus relief funding from the American Rescue Plan for a media buy to promote the area to travelers.
Tulsa County commissioners approved the expenditure last week. It will go toward an episode of CBS Travel Editor Peter Greenberg’s "Travel Detective" show, which airs on PBS and select streaming platforms, along with related assets Tulsa Regional Tourism can use later.
Tulsa Regional Tourism President Ray Hoyt said Greenberg has a lot of influence among affluent travelers who could bring an infusion of new dollars into the local economy and maybe even boost tourism above pre-pandemic levels.
"Obviously, we want more. We want Tulsa to be front and center in a lot of people's decision making when they travel. Still, I think, the drive market is still significant in the recovery," Hoyt said.
The funding for Tulsa Regional Tourism is just the second American Rescue Plan expenditure county commissioners have approved so far. The first was for up to $3 million in revenue guarantees for airlines bringing direct flights to Tulsa. Tulsa County Director of Governmental Affairs Terry Simonson said both were time-sensitive requests.
Simonson has been managing Tulsa County’s federal virus relief spending and said while the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act was about suppressing the pandemic, the American Rescue Plan is about recovery, and that includes boosting hard-hit industries like tourism.
"The Treasury Department isn't going to try to dictate or design a local tourism program or a statewide tourism program. So, there's broad discretion in saying, 'If you believe this will work — and you know your tourism environment better than anyone else — if you think this particular idea or program will work to bring it back,' then it's an acceptable use," Simonson said.
Simonson expects the county to begin reviewing requests for American Rescue Plan funding on a near weekly basis soon. Tulsa County received $126 million from the $1.9 trillion relief package. The local funding is expected in two tranches.