Official says tourism returns to prepandemic numbers in Arkansas, discusses plans for future

FORT SMITH — State tourism numbers have rebounded from the pandemic, in response to the director of Arkansas Tourism.

Travis Napper met with Fort Smith’s Promoting and Promotions Fee on Thursday to debate the financial impression of 2021 and what’s being performed to enhance tourism throughout the state. He stated the general theme is The Future is Shiny for Arkansas.

Napper stated nearly 90% of Arkansas Tourism cash comes from the two% lodging tax, which has been surpassing the report excessive every quarter this yr. He stated the previous 5 – 6 consecutive months’ collections have been report highs for that month, with June being one of the best month ever for assortment.

Napper stated general collections profit native tourism and lodging and vice versa. He stated tourism’s new regular is at a sooner tempo than it was earlier than covid-19.

Tourism spending has returned to about $8 million, a 33% enhance in comparison with 2020, and customer quantity elevated 41%. Sizzling Springs Nationwide Park is among the many nation’s prime 40 most visited parks, Napper stated.

One quantity that is nonetheless decrease in comparison with 2019 is hospitality and tourism employment charges, that are 5% decrease than 2019 however 23% greater than in 2020.

“Regardless of being down 5% within the variety of jobs that we’re creating, we have been up a little bit over 1% on the payroll tied to these jobs,” Napper stated. “After we’re speaking about recruitment or retention of these sort of jobs going ahead, one of many largest issues has at all times been the wage stage is low. So the truth that we have recovered on payroll however we have not recovered on the quantity of individuals, that is a great signal, which hopefully will enhance our skill to maintain individuals in these jobs going ahead.”

Napper stated Arkansas Tourism obtained a grant from the Financial Improvement Administration to create a plan to see how state tourism can function higher and what to be taking a look at for the longer term.

Tim Jacobsen, govt director of the Fort Smith Arkansas Conference and Guests Bureau, stated the town is internet hosting a gathering for the brand new plan from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Thursday on the conference middle primarily to debate journey and tourism. The bureau can also be working in collaboration with the state to carry bloggers, journey writers and influencers to the River Valley to share space tourism alternatives with their followers, he stated.

Arkansas Tourism is working with vacation spot analysts on software program private identification, which is a survey for potential and current vacationers with a view to categorize them primarily based on pursuits to higher market to these pursuits, in addition to see what areas may very well be improved, Napper stated.

“So that you might need your loved ones vacationers, journey vacationers, RV vacationers, park-goers, historical past lovers, foodies, no matter these could also be, and thru this survey you may study what resonates most and greatest with these about what we’ve got to supply in Arkansas,” Napper stated.

“I imagine our residents come first, in that what we produce is sweet for our residents so far as that tax, but additionally the standard of life. The issues that carry guests listed here are the identical issues that our locals prefer to take part in and expertise and do.”


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