Arkansas Tourism Ticker: Growth moderates but continues for Arkansas’ tourism industry in 2017

by Michael Tilley (mtilley@talkbusiness.net) 229 views 

Jobs, city hospitality revenue and the state’s 2% tourism tax all showed gains in 2017, even up against tough comparisons with healthy gains in 2016, according to the Arkansas Tourism Ticker. The only surprise was a dip in tourism industry jobs in central Arkansas.

Collections of Arkansas’ 2% tourism set a record of $15.897 million in 2017, and also marked the eighth consecutive year of revenue growth.

The Arkansas Tourism Ticker is managed by Talk Business & Politics, and sponsored by the Arkansas Hospitality Association. The ticker 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.

2017 marked the third consecutive year of growth as measured by the Arkansas Tourism Ticker. The 2016 Arkansas Tourism Ticker report showed a 4% gain in hospitality tax revenue among 17 Arkansas cities reviewed for the report, a 4.36% increase in collections of the state’s 2% tourism tax, and a 1.58% increase in Arkansas tourism industry jobs compared to 2015. In 2015, the report showed a 7.41% increase in hospitality tax revenue among the 17 Arkansas cities, an 8.31% increase in collections of the state’s 2% tourism tax, and a 5.04% increase in Arkansas tourism industry jobs compared to 2014.

Results for the 2017 Tourism Ticker report are:
• 2.18% increase
Hospitality tax revenue in 2017 among 17 Arkansas cities reviewed for the Arkansas Tourism Ticker compared with 2016 revenue

• 2.8% increase
Collections of Arkansas’ 2% statewide tourism tax in 2017 compared with 2016.

• 2.94% increase
Increase in Arkansas’ tourism industry jobs in 2017 compared with 2016.

Montine McNulty, executive director of the Arkansas Hospitality Association, said she is impressed with the resiliency of the industry.

“It is very encouraging news to see year-over year-numbers increase. Travel and hospitality are still a dominant  force in our state’s economy. The jobs increase once again is very good news,” McNulty noted.

The combined hospitality tax collections in the 17 cities totaled $45.989 million in 2017, up 2.18% compared with the $45.007 million in 2016.

Restaurant (prepared food tax) tax collections among the 17 cities totaled $33.764 million in 2017, up 1.59% compared with the $33.233 million in 2016. Hotel tax collections among the 17 cities totaled $12.224 million in 2017, up 3.82% compared with the $11.774 million in 2016.

Of the 17 cities surveyed for the Arkansas Tourism Ticker, five posted hospitality tax collection declines for the year (El Dorado, down 7.86%; Fort Smith, down 4.08%; Jonesboro, down 2.64%; Springdale, down 0.76%; and Fayetteville, down 0.17%). Of the 12 cities with gains, the range was a 26.82% gain in Rogers and a 0.56% gain in Pine Bluff.

The state’s tourism tax revenue totaled $15.897 million in 2017, up 2.8% compared with the same period in 2016. Arkansas’ 2% tourism tax generated $15.461 million in 2016, up 4.36% over the $14.815 million in 2015. Collections of Arkansas’ 2% tourism tax hit a monthly record of $1.763 million in June 2017.

Link here for the PDF report of the 2017 Arkansas Tourism Ticker.

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