Former Little Rock Mayor Jim Dailey will replace Joe David Rice as tourism director of the Arkansas Parks and Tourism Department. Rice, who is retiring after 30 years with the agency, is the final departure of a veteran management team responsible for managing and promoting the state’s park system and tourism assets.
Kane Webb, executive director of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, announced late Wednesday (Sept. 20) that Dailey would succeed Rice, who retires Dec. 31. A Little Rock native, Dailey graduated from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and served for more than 20 years as an elected official, 14 of those as mayor of Little Rock from 1993 to 2006.
“Jim Dailey has been a dedicated public servant in The Natural State for most of his adult life and has devoted countless hours and energy to the tourism industry as a member of the Arkansas State Parks, Recreation and Travel Commission. He is a natural fit for this position, and I’m pleased that he has agreed to come on board in this new role. Tourism is one of the state’s leading industries and a major driver of economic development. I am confident that under Jim’s direction, Arkansas Tourism will continue to thrive, innovate and attract visitors from all across the world,” Webb said in a statement.
Dailey is a broker/consultant with Flake & Kelley Commercial Real Estate. He has been president of the National Office Products Association, president of the Arkansas Municipal League, chairman of the Advisory Committee of the National League of Cities, chairman of the FCC Intergovernmental Advisory Committee, a member of the Arkansas Broadband Council, chairman of Little Rock’s Airport Commission, and chairman of the Arkansas State Parks, Recreation and Travel Commission.
“I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to lead Arkansas Tourism following the incredible career of Joe David Rice,” Dailey said. “He leaves a legacy of excellence in his field and is recognized across the nation by his fellow state tourism directors, most recently being named the first ever state tourism director emeritus by his peers. I will not be able to replace Joe David, but I hope to build upon the positive reputation he has established for Arkansas. I look forward to working with the entire Parks and Tourism staff and with tourism industry partners from across the state.”
The Arkansas Tourism director is primarily responsible for boosting the number of visitors to Arkansas and to market the state’s tourism image. The tourism section of the department has 67 employees based in Little Rock and across Arkansas, including 13 welcome centers at entry points into the state, with an additional welcome center located in Little Rock. The director also manages the division’s annual operating and marketing budgets.
In a statement from the department, Rice praised Dailey’s selection.
“I’ve enjoyed working with Jim since 2012, when he joined the Arkansas State Parks, Recreation and Travel Commission. His experience and distinguished career both in the public and private sectors have more than prepared him to lead Arkansas Tourism. I couldn’t be more pleased with this transition.”
Prior to Rice’s retirement, Greg Butts retired as director of State Parks after 25 years as director and 42 years with the parks system. Grady Spann was named director on Jan. 1.
Richard Davies, who served as director of the entire department under eight governors, retired in late 2015. Gov. Asa Hutchinson named Webb to replace Davies.