LRCVB outlines economic impact of COVID-19

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 938 views 

Robinson Center in Little Rock. Photo credit Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau (LRCVB) has released the latest tourism economic impact information to the Little Rock Advertising & Promotion (A&P) Commission, reflecting multi-million dollar losses in the local restaurant and hotel industry, hundreds of convention and meeting cancellations and a sharp decrease in enplanements as a result of COVID-19.

“The coronavirus pandemic has devastated the traveling world, and tourism in Little Rock has been no exception,” said LRCVB CEO Gretchen Hall.

Little Rock impact by the numbers for the 12-week period of March 15 through June 8, according to Hall included:

  • Hotel Revenue Citywide: 66% decline
  • Hotel Occupancy Citywide: 54% decline
  • 2% LRCVB Lodging Tax Collections: 80.18% decline (May collections for April business)
  • 88% of Arkansas restaurant operators’ staff laid off or furloughed
  • 2% LRCVB Prepared Food Tax Collections: 34.62% decline
  • To date, 214 meetings cancelled in 2020 resulting in more than $23 million in economic impact

At the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport, the following declines were noted:

  • Pre-Pandemic: Average 41 departures per day
  • Presently: 13 departures per day (almost 68% decline)
  • April 21,2020: Average 186 enplanements per day (93.7% decline)
  • May 21, 2020: Average 400 enplanements per day (88.6% decline)
  • June 4, 2020: Average 663 enplanements per day (81.2% decline)

Pre COVID-19, tourism was Arkansas’ second largest economic driver. Pulaski County accounted for $1.8 billion in travel spending, resulting in 25% of the state’s overall travel expenditures.

“Tourism was one of the fastest-growing industries in the world and had been growing in Little Rock in recent years. The difficult reality is our industry is currently the hardest hit industry when it comes to the economic effects of this virus and will be one of the last to recover,” Hall said.

The Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau is the official destination marketing organization for the city of Little Rock, charged with marketing and selling the city as a meeting, sports and leisure travel destination. The LRCVB also manages the Statehouse Convention Center, Robinson Center, River Market and multiple parking facilities.