Tourism-related tax collections are down in Fort Smith and Van Buren, with a statewide tourism tax down 0.11% for the first quarter of 2013. However, real spending on travel and tourism in the U.S. was up almost 7% in the first quarter, according to a federal report released Monday.
Collections in Van Buren during the first four months of 2013 total $137,531, a slight decline of 0.9% from the $138,891 in the same period of 2012. April collections in Van Buren were $35,431, just slightly below the $35,662 in April 2012. The city collects a 1% tax on lodging and a 1% prepared food tax.
Maryl Koeth, executive director of the Van Buren Advertising & Promotion Commission, believes the numbers will improve during the summer travel season.
“Receipts are still down from last year, but slowly (showing) slight improvement. (We)should see a small increase in receipts as the traditional vacation and travel season begins,” Koeth explained.
During 2012, Van Buren hospitality tax collections totaled $425,554, up 5.2% compared to the 2011 collections. Hospitality tax collections in Van Buren during 2011 totaled $429,561, up 2.34% compared to 2010. The 2011 collections ended a two-year skid in Van Buren.
Collections in Fort Smith during the first four months totals $244,040, down 1.4% compared to the same period in 2012. April collections were $69,088, up an impressive 13.9% compared to April 2012. The city collects a 3% tax on lodging.
“The increase, fueled by the Southwest Regional Dance convention, the Arkansas National Guard convention and a very successful baseball tournament, helped to increase both occupancy and average daily rate for the month,” explained Claude Legris, executive director of the Fort Smith Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Fort Smith April lodging occupancy was up 15.6% over April of last year and average daily rate increased almost 5%.”
Legris said the April numbers may climb higher when all accounts are collected.
“We still await partial payments from the property that is changing ownership. Previous ownership and new ownership each owe for portions of the month of April. We will report both as revenue when received,” Legris said.
Employment in the Fort Smith regional tourism industry points to a positive trend. May employment in the region is estimated at 9,300, up over the 9,200 in May 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The monthly average employment in 2012 was 9,000, higher than the 8,800 in 2011 and 8,700 in 2010. However, employment averages peaked in 2007, 2008 and 2009 at 9,300.
STATE, NATIONAL DATA
The May STR report posted at HotelNewsNow.com indicates an increase in hotel occupancy that supports Koeth’s hope that trends will improve going into the summer months.
The U.S. hotel industry’s occupancy rose 1.1% to 64%, its average daily rate was up 3.6% to $109.86 and its revenue per available room increased 4.7% to $70.34, noted the STR report.
Arkansas’ tourism sector (leisure & hospitality) employed 101,200 during May, down from the 102,300 during April and less than the 102,600 during May 2012. At a revised 103,700, January 2013 marked a new employment high in the sector.
Arkansas’ 2% tourism tax receipts totaled $2.634 million for the first quarter of 2013, just down just 0.11% compared to the $2.637 million during the same period of 2012.
Arkansas’ 2% tourism tax receipts totaled $12.405 million during 2012, up 3.16% compared to the $12.025 million during 2011. The gains marked the third consecutive year of improving tourism tax revenue.
Real spending on travel and tourism in the U.S. was up 6.8% in the first quarter of 2013, after increasing 2.1% (revised) in the fourth quarter of 2012, according to a Monday (June 24) report from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.
The BEA report included the following information.
• Overall growth in prices for travel and tourism goods and services slowed in the first quarter of 2013, increasing 0.3% following a 2.4% (revised) increase in the fourth quarter.
• Employment in the travel and tourism industries increased 2.3% in the first quarter of 2013 after increasing 2.1% (revised) in the fourth quarter of 2012. By comparison, overall U.S. employment increased 1.9% in the first quarter after increasing 1.6% in the fourth quarter.
• In the first quarter of 2013, total current-dollar tourism-related spending was $1.5 trillion and consisted of $888.5 billion (59%) of direct tourism spending — goods and services sold directly to visitors — and $606.2 billion (41%) of indirect tourism-related spending — goods and services used to produce what visitors purchase.
• Total tourism-related employment was 7.9 million jobs in the first quarter of 2013 and consisted of 5.7 million (71%) direct tourism jobs — jobs where workers produce goods and services sold directly to visitors — and 2.2 million (29%) indirect tourism-related jobs — jobs where workers produce goods and services used to produce what visitors purchase.