State tourism department destroys $46,000 in tourism guides, director cites too many errors - - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - |

State tourism department destroys $46,000 in tourism guides, director cites too many errors

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The state Tourism and Recreation Department destroyed nearly $46,000 worth of event guides after the department's director said the book had too many errors and pictures that did not reflect favorably on the state.

Newly appointed director Robb Gray ordered the 200,000 copies of the 2005 Annual Events Guide to be destroyed after finding misspellings, errors and a picture depicting a Confederate flag.

The guides were to be distributed at the Oklahoma State Fair.

Tourism officials are compiling a new version of the guide that Gray said could cost taxpayers about $30,000 more.

``When we discovered the contents of the events guide were not culturally sensitive or fitting for the image of the state, and also that it contained a number of errors, we insisted the guide not be distributed,'' Gray said.

The Oklahoman obtained one of the few remaining copies of the guide under the Oklahoma Open Records Act.

A picture depicting a Civil War re-enactment group firing cannons underneath the Confederate battle flag was among the pictures Gray said wasn't culturally sensitive. Gray said he was trying to avoid offending any visitors to Oklahoma.

Another picture showed three women holding trophies and cow chips, and standing beside a pile of cow chips, to promote Beaver's cow chip-tossing contest.

``Images are so powerful, we really need to select them with great caution,'' said Gray, who took over as director of the agency last month.

The guide is often the first image visitors get of Oklahoma, said Lu Richardson, a spokeswoman for the state Tourism and Recreation Department.

The publications are distributed through tourism information centers across the state, and the state Tourism and Recreation Department's information call center.

Gray has served as the department's chief of staff since June 2003. Previously, he was the agency's legislative liaison and operations analyst for two years.

He succeeded former interim Director Ralph McCalmont, who resigned to head a new state task force to study the economic impact of historic preservation.
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