Get your motor runnin’
Head out on the highway
Looking for adventure
In whatever comes our way
“Born To Be Wild” – Steppenwolf
The ultimate biker song could serve as a marketing campaign for a new push from state tourism officials.
In the last two years, Arkansas has begun marketing its scenic highways to motorcyclists who are far from the drifter image painted in cult classic films like “Easy Rider.” We’re not talking Hell’s Angels, says Arkansas Tourism director Joe David Rice.
“These are not the motorcyclists that your mommas warned you about. These are basically, as Willie Nelson would say, doctors and lawyers and such,” Rice said.
Earlier this year and for the first time ever, Arkansas’ Parks & Tourism department published the “Arkansas Motorcycle Guide” and has already fielded requests from nearly 4,000 people for the resource book. The guide lists 21 routes for riders, dates and locations for motorcycle rallies across the state, sightseeing opportunities in different regions, and, of course, hospitality stops along the Arkansas roadways.
Roughly 29% of the requests for the guide have been from in-state inquiries. That number rises to about 45% when you add in the surrounding states of Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana. All told, requests have been received from 48 states and the District of Columbia.
“We think motorcyclists present a great opportunity for us. No other state is really targeting them right now,” Rice said. “They’re riding expensive motorcycles. They’re staying at bed & breakfasts, resorts, and hotels. They love Arkansas because they can come here ten months a year.”
Rice said motorcycle enthusiasts typically skew older, travel in pairs or larger groups, and tend to be financially affluent. Statistics compiled by a 2010 Caesars Hospitality Research Summit of bikers age 50 or older showed that 59% are male. Roughly 25% reported incomes of $30,000-$50,000 a year and another 22% earned $50,000-$70,000 annually.
About 37% of motorcycle enthusiasts surveyed were retired or self-employed, another 27% were listed as professionals, 17% were craftsmen, and 11% had a background in the military or public sector. They also spend $50 or more on shopping and souvenirs on day trips.
Rice said that native hospitality and the state’s natural beauty are a good combo for motorcycle recruiting. He also said a policy change made a few years ago has also endeared the state as an attraction for bikers.
“We’ve got friendly people, we’ve got some really good motorcycle routes, and we don’t have a helmet law,” he said.
MotorcycleRoads.com ranked its top 100 U.S. routes and Arkansas has seven roads on the list. The highest ranking is the Arkansas Pig Trail – Highway 23, which comes in at No. 9 on the Top 100 list.