First quarter tourism tax revenue up in Fort Smith, Van Buren

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 78 views 

The first quarter 2012 numbers are positive for the tourism business in the Fort Smith and Van Buren area, and collections of Arkansas’ 2% tourism tax are up almost 13% for the first two months of the year.

Hospitality tax collections in Van Buren totaled $98,338 during the first quarter, up 9.8% compared to the $89,556 during the 2011 period. The quarter ended strong with a more than 7% increase in March collections. The city collects a 1% tax on lodging and a 1% prepared food tax.

“Warmer than normal temperatures and what appeared to be a very good increase in Spring break visitors helped boost our tax revenue by 7.2% over March 2011,” said Maryl Koeth, executive director of the Van Buren Advertising & Promotion Commission. “The lodging and restaurant sectors are seeing about the same increases in receipts.  For lodging properties, it appears that leisure and business travel are improving. I anticipate continued modest growth throughout the summer months.”

Hospitality tax collections in Van Buren during 2011 totaled $429,561, up 2.34% compared to 2010. The 2011 collections end a two-year skid in Van Buren.

Fort Smith collections for the first quarter totaled $183,381, up 13% compared to the $160,680 during the 2011 period. The city collects a 3% tax on lodging.

“While we are pleased to see a good first quarter everyone is concerned about the uncertainties of the Arkansas economy so we are pleased that the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism is unveiling its “More Fun Per Gallon” campaign later this spring to augment the current spring/summer campaign already in place. It’s aimed at keeping tourists closer to home and in the state,” explained Claude Legris, executive director of the Fort Smith Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Collections in Fort Smith during March were $68,390, up 13% compared to March 2011.

Hospitality tax collections in Fort Smith totaled $708,141 during 2011, up 4.3% compared to the 2010 period. It was the second consecutive year for a hospitality tax collection gain in Fort Smith.

Employment was the only declining figure related to the hospitality sector in the Fort Smith during the first quarter. Job numbers in the sector have been down in each month compared to 2011. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimate 8,100 employed in the sector during March, down from 8,500 during March 2011.

Average monthly employment in the sector is on a two-year decline. During 2007, 2008 and 2009, the average monthly employment was 9,300. That fell to 8,700 during 2010 and 8,500 during 2011.

Collections of a statewide 2% tourism tax generated $1.577 million during the first two months of 2012, up 12.78% compared to the 2011 period. Collection of the statewide tax was $12.025 million during 2011, up 4.6% compared to $11.492 million during 2010.