NWA tourism campaign unveiled

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 128 views 

It sounds like a simple concept: Explore Northwest Arkansas. But regional business leaders hope the new marketing campaign will resonate with folks traveling to the region this year.

The marketing campaign was unveiled Thursday (April 19) by Brad Henry, the new executive director for the regional tourism commission.

Henry donned his explorer hat and told the sparse crowd and media gathered at Arvest Ballpark in Springdale the campaign is intended to entice those folks traveling here for a day at Crystal Bridges in Bentonville or a Razorback baseball game to stay over another day.

“We want them to also explore a day trip to Eureka Springs or try their luck at the Cherokee Casino in west Siloam Springs,” Henry said.

Henry said the new campaign will began showing up in travel magazines targeting families in neighboring states in the next few days. The commission’s new website will also feature a explorer map that links Eureka Springs with Fayetteville and Huntsville to Siloam Springs.

Mike Malone, executive director the Northwest Arkansas Council, was on hand Thursday to lend his support to the campaign.

“We know what a great place this is, but we haven’t liked to self-promote our region in the past. We have been fortunate that people have just found us, but this is a new day and we have new challenges. We must do a better job promoting this region for tourism because it’s an important piece to economic development,” Malone said.

Bentonville will be the first to attest to the power of tourism. Since the opening of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the city’s restaurants, hotels and shops have seen a sizable increase in tax collections. In the first three months of this year sales tax collections by Bentonville businesses rose 45.66% from a year ago.

Daniel Hintz, executive director for Downtown Bentonville Inc., said the city has welcomed six new restaurants in its downtown area in the past year along with a smattering of new retail venues, many of which cater to the art experience.

Hintz said weekday traffic downtown has always been good thanks to working professionals, but it’s now spilling over to the early evening and weekends because of the new businesses and added visitors drawn to art.

Since opening Nov. 11, 2011, more than 250,000 guests have visited Crystal Bridges, according to museum records.