Roby Brock: Why Tourism (And More) Matters

by Roby Brock ([email protected]) 93 views 

Welcome to this newest microsite that is now a big part of the Talk Business & Politics family.

The genesis of this site sprouted from our participation in the recent annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism, where it became apparent that the “business” of tourism, travel, hospitality and heritage has grown into a significant economic engine in Arkansas.

After talking to several state leaders in this arena, we decided it was time to center our news coverage on the different hubs that comprise the interrelated industries of the aforementioned subjects. Quite frankly, we’ve been covering it for years – it was just time to do it in a more organized and formal manner.

Tourism and related areas account for nearly $6 billion in economic activity in the state. It accounts for 116,800 jobs, according to the latest labor statistics. In case you’re wondering, that’s 9.3% of the state’s total employed workforce.

As you can see from some of our news coverage on this page, tourism is on a record-setting pace this year to become even more important to the state’s economy.

Lawmakers should take note and find ways to invest in this all-important industry.

It touches every corner of the state, so there is opportunity to grow tourism-related jobs everywhere.

It is generally a clean industry with fewer harmful effects on the economy than other industrial or goods-producing sectors. As a matter of fact, the sustainability movement has deep roots in the tourism sector.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the tourism economy adds to our quality of life in Arkansas. And it draws people to the Natural State to spend their money and thus we collect taxes from them.

There are myriad ways for the state and investors to make a difference. We have to continue smart tax policies; invest in our state parks, museums and natural resources; and look for job-training and entrepreneurial opportunities to strengthen the startups and beginners in this field.

If we don’t invest in this booming sector now, we’ll be missing a real opportunity later.

Enjoy the new website. Veteran writer and long-time Talk Business & Politics contributor Kerri Jackson Case will be leading our coverage. A special thanks to the many organizations that will be helping underwrite this effort with their advertising and sponsorship.

Please feel free to share your thoughts with either of this as we begin this newest endeavor.