Alexis Rogers with our content partner, KATV Ch. 7 News, reports:
Thousands of tourists made their way to Little Rock within the last month for various competitions and conferences. Their visits have given the local economy a boost through hotels, restaurants and shopping.
According to Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau CEO Gretchen Hall, more than 12,000 people have visited the area in the last month.
“Everything from about 12,000 spectators and 218 teams with the U.S. youth soccer regional championship a couple weeks ago. The national quilting association came in and had several thousand attend. Of course ATA is in town right now with over 5,000 competitors with family, friends and guests,” Hall said. “With ATA and U.S. Youth Soccer, together we are seeing north of $5 million in economic impact for each of those groups.”
Hall told Channel 7 News annual groups have resulted in an increase in expected visitors. ATA saw a 600-person increase in their registration numbers.
“Those numbers are phenomenal. For us, it’s been a great mix of new business and growing that annual business,” Hall said.
As ATA closed its event Sunday, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Incorporated is gearing up to bring a potential 4,000 more people to Little Rock for their Conclave conference.
Local Conclave Chair Richard Moss said it’s refreshing to have the option to hold such a big event in Little Rock.
“Twenty to 25 years ago, I wouldn’t think we had the infrastructure but now we do. All the hotels that are here, the events, the locals, the exhibitions that we have. We can say, ‘Hey we are ready, this is where you need to come,’” Moss said. “It’s a big deal. We are going to bring roughly 2,000 African-American men who have registered for the conclave and that will bring an economic impact of about $4.5 to $5 million dollars on the community.”
According to Moss, the Conclave is attracting people from all over the world to Little Rock.
“We will have people from the Bahamas, Korea, China. They will be bringing in their families to meet brothers, and conduct the business of the fraternity. So it’s a pretty big event,” Moss said. “We also have a community service project, taking over pretty much all of the hotels downtown starting with the Marriott and the DoubleTree. We sold those hotels completely out.”
Hall told Channel 7 News hotel revenues are up 9% this year. Due to the increase of people coming to Little Rock, hundreds of part-time jobs have been created to meet the need.
Moss said the city – having a wide variety of events attracting diversity to Little Rock – is good for the economy.
“The social events, the landmarks we have, those are the types of things we have for people to visit our city and say ‘Hey I had a great time,’” Moss said. “The members started coming in yesterday, so we will have an economic impact of about 10 days. Brothers will spend roughly around $2,000 per member while they are here, so that is a lot of discretionary income and economic impact for Little Rock and surrounding areas.”
With the increase of tourists in the area, Moss said it benefits more than the economy.
“We hope to not only leave an impact economically, but socially as well,” Moss said.
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