Fort Smith metro travel and tourism sector improves in first half of 2019

by Michael Tilley (mtilley@talkbusiness.net) 176 views 

Travel and tourism business in the Fort Smith metro has rebounded in the first six months of 2019 compared with what was a down year in 2018. Hospitality tax revenue is up in Fort Smith and Van Buren, with revenue from Arkansas’ 2% tourism tax up almost 10% in Crawford County.

Hotel tax collections in Fort Smith totaled $457,329 between January and June, up 5.7% compared with the same period in 2018. Collections of Fort Smith’s hotel tax totaled $840,044 in 2018, down 1.49% compared with $852,733 in 2017.

Hotel and prepared food tax collections in Van Buren totaled $310,809 between January and June, up 3.3% compared with the same period in 2018. Van Buren’s hotel and prepared food tax generated $605,748 in 2018, up 0.64% compared with $601,888 in 2017.

The monthly average of jobs in the Fort Smith metro tourism sector was 9,460 in 2018, down 1.7% compared with 2017, and also below the 9,500 average in 2016. Sector employment ended the year at an estimated 9,300 jobs in December, up from 9,200 in December 2017.

The monthly average of jobs in the Fort Smith metro tourism and travel sector was 9,500 between January and June, up 1.5% compared with the same period in 2018. The monthly average of jobs in the Fort Smith metro tourism sector was 9,460 in 2018, down 1.7% compared with 2017. By way of comparison, tourism and travel job growth during the first half of 2019 was down 4.8% in Northwest Arkansas, up 3.5% in central Arkansas, and up 2.17% in the Texarkana metro.

Arkansas’ 2% statewide tourism tax revenue in Jan.-June 2019 was up 4.1% compared with the same period in 2018. Following are collections of the state’s 2% tourism tax in Fort Smith metro counties.
Crawford County
Jan.-June 2019: $90,105
Jan.-June 2018: $81,993
up 9.9%

Franklin County
Jan.-June 2019: $14,644
Jan.-June 2018: $8,731
up 67.7%

Logan County
Jan.-June 2019: $5,274
Jan.-June 2018: $6,368
down 17.2%

Sebastian County
Jan.-June 2019: $321,471
Jan.-June 2018: $301,724
up 6.5%

Sebastian County ranked 5th among Arkansas’ 75 counties in 2% tourism tax revenue during the first six months of 2019. Pulaski County was first with $1.907 million, up 8%; followed by Benton County with $1.169 million, up 7.8%; Garland County at $901,686, up 13.7%; and Washington County at $774,733, up 13.5%.

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