Arkansas tourism tax up 8.1% in Crawford County; Fort Smith airport activity up 5.7%

by Michael Tilley (mtilley@talkbusiness.net) 398 views 

Business and tourism travel in the Fort Smith metro is trending higher compared to a flat 2018, with Fort Smith Regional enplanements up almost 6% between January and October.

Hospitality tax revenue in Fort Smith (lodging only) totaled $622,621 between January and August, up 6.5% compared with the $584,771 during the same period in 2018. Hospitality tax revenue in Van Buren (lodging and prepared food) totaled $420,674 between January and August, up 3.7% compared with the $405,860 during the same period in 2018.

Data from the recent Arkansas Tourism Ticker showed that the combined hospitality tax collections in the 17 cities surveyed totaled $36.111 million in Jan.-August 2019, up 5.2% compared with the $34.332 million in the same period in 2018. The combined hospitality tax collections in the 17 cities totaled $50.847 million in 2018, up 2.36% compared with the $49.319 million in 2017.

Regional collection of Arkansas’ 2% tourism tax also trended higher. Following are 2% revenue numbers from four regional counties.
• Jan.-August 2019: Sebastian: $439,820, up 7.6%
• Jan.-August 2019: Crawford: $122,661, up 8.1%
• Jan.-August 2019: Franklin: $20,281, up 62%
• Jan.-August 2019: Logan: $7,484, down 22.6%

The average monthly workforce for the Fort Smith metro leisure and hospitality sector for the first eight months of the year was 9,600, up 1% compared with the same period in 2018, and up 14.3% from the same period almost 10 years ago in 2010. Sector employment in October was an estimated 9,400, unchanged from October 2018. Sector employment hit a record 10,100 in June 2016.

Enplanements out of the Fort Smith Regional Airport – Arkansas’ third largest commercial field – totaled 79,214 between January and October, up 5.7% compared with the 74,892 in the same period of 2018. October enplanements totaled 9,126, up 13.4% compared with October 2018.

The growth attributable to American Airlines. Traffic on American Airlines out of Fort Smith totaled 57,052 in the January-October period, up 10% compared with the same period in 2018. Delta enplanements totaled 22,162 in the 10-month period, down 3.6% from the 22,979 in the same period of 2018.

Enplanements at the airport in 2018 were up for the third straight year. They totaled 90,501 in 2018, up from 89,582 in 2017 and 87,488 in 2016. Following are the previous five years of enplanement totals.
2018: 90,501
2017: 89,582
2016: 87,488
2015: 86,704
2014: 92,869

January-October enplanements out of the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport in Little Rock were 940,484, up 6%. January-October enplanements out of the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport (XNA) were 768,650, up almost 17% compared with the same period in 2018. Clinton and XNA are the state’s largest and second largest, respectively, commercial fields.

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