Visitor development has historically been a strong supporter of the Stillwater economy. To better quantify current return on investment (ROI) and the ability to maximize future returns, the Visit Stillwater Board of Directors recently engaged Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics Company, to analyze the performance of the local tourism industry and the role of Visit Stillwater in attracting visitors to the area. Using industry figures from STR and Dean Runyan Associates, along with an economic model of Payne County, Tourism Economics analyzed important market trends and assessed the positive impact of tourism on the Stillwater economy.

The report entitled, “Analysis of Destination Marketing:  Stillwater, OK”, illustrates Visit Stillwater, Stillwater’s Destination Marketing Organization (DMO), provides a substantial ROI.  Each $1.00 of Hotel Room Tax to fund Visit Stillwater generates, $10.70 in income for local residents and $1.37 in local taxes. Every $10,000 of funding for Visit Stillwater supports 4.3 jobs in Payne County. Additionally,

  • Visitors spent $126 million in Payne County in 2015
  • This spending directly supported 2,100 jobs with associated incomes of $34.8 million
  • The spending also generated $6.3 million in state taxes and $5.4 million in local taxes
  • This is equivalent to $388 dollars in state and local taxes raised for every household in Payne County.

Visit Stillwater supports rapid growth that benefits the local economy. Strong growth in the local tourism sector combined with Visit Stillwater’s strong record of meeting key performance indicators demonstrates Stillwater’s DMO has a significant impact on the local economy.

  • Payne County has increased its market share of State tourism spending to 1.6% in 2015 from 1.4% in 2011. While this increase may appear small, tourists spent $8.0 billion in Oklahoma in 2015, so the 0.2% increase equates to $17.6 million of new spending in Payne County.
  • Tourism remains the 3rd largest revenue generating industry for the state of Oklahoma.

A budget cut for Visit Stillwater (in which only 80% of hotel occupancy tax is allocated to Visit Stillwater) would have severe consequences for the local economy. Over the next five years, cutting funding for Visit Stillwater could cost Stillwater and Payne County:

  • $26.5 million in total visitor spending;
  • $8.1 million in room revenue;
  • 85,900 room nights;
  • $5.2 million in direct earnings; and
  • $1.1 million in local taxes.

Destination marketing not only supports the visitor economy, but also acts as a catalyst of broader economic development, raises quality of life, and attracts investors from other sectors.