Collections for the 2% tourism tax were robust in the fall and are up overall 8.56%, according to the latest numbers released to the Arkansas State Parks, Tourism and Recreation Commission.
Central, Northwest and the Diamond Lakes regions of the state continue to be the drivers, bringing in the highest collections. Northwest and Diamond Lakes also saw big increases year to date at 21.21% and 14.22% respectively. While Central Arkansas has the highest collections at nearly $3.4 million, it’s off slightly for the year, down 0.49%.
Northwest Arkansas region includes Benton, Carroll, Madison and Washington counties. Central Arkansas includes Faulkner, Lonoke, Prairie, Pulaski and Saline counties. Diamond Lakes includes Clark, Garland, Hot Spring, Montgomery and Pike counties.
Because the Commission doesn’t meet in December, they were given two months of data: September and October 2015. Both months showed positive growth over the same months in 2014. September collections were up 10.43% over the previous year. October was up 13.81%.
While Central Arkansas brought in the highest revenue year to date, in September and October Northwest Arkansas was the leader. The Northwest region collected $403,398 in tourism taxes in September compared to $260,512 in the Central region and another $420,021 in October compared to $393,104 in Central Arkansas. The Central region brought in nearly $3.4 million year to date compared to $3.2 million in the Northwest Region.
The Diamond Lakes Region collected $1.6 million year to date. The Great River Road region also passed the $1 million mark with $1.4 million in revenue. The Great River Road region includes Arkansas, Chicot, Clay, Craighead, Crittenden, Cross, Desha, Drew, Greene, Lee, Mississippi, Monroe, Phillips, Poinsett and Saint Francis counties.
In addition to the Commission report, the Talk Business & Politics Arkansas Tourism Ticker also shows broad gains in the state’s tourism industry. The most recent report published Jan. 7 showed that September and October were good months for Arkansas’ tourism sector, with hospitality tax collections among 17 cities up 7.58% for the first 10 months of the year, an improvement over the 5% gain during the first eight months of 2015.
The Arkansas Tourism Ticker, sponsored by the Arkansas Hospitality Association, uses the following three measurements to review the health of the state’s tourism industry.
• Hospitality tax collections – prepared food tax and lodging tax – of 17 Arkansas cities (cities listed below along with collections for each city);
• Tourism sector employment numbers as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; and
• Collections of Arkansas’ 2% statewide tourism tax.
Results for the January-October ticker report are:
• +7.58%: Gain in combined January-October hospitality tax collections in 17 Arkansas cities compared to the same period in 2014;
• +8.5%: January-October gain in Arkansas’ 2% tourism tax compared to the same period in 2014; and
• +5.4%: Increase in average monthly Arkansas tourism industry jobs during January and October compared to January-October 2014.