Arkansas Tourism Ticker shows impact of COVID-19 between March and June

by Michael Tilley ([email protected]) 737 views 

Arkansas’ tourism industry is not in ICU, but COVID-19 certainly has one of the state’s largest economic sectors on its heels. The state’s 2% tourism tax is down 30.4% between January and June, and job numbers are down almost 14%.

Arkansas’ 2% tourism tax revenue between January and June was $5.905 million, down 30.4% compared with the $8.488 million in the same period in 2019. The tax was up 7.2% in 2019. February revenue of $1.366 million set a new monthly record for the tax, but then, well, COVID.

January-June hospitality tax collections among 17 cities surveyed for the Arkansas Tourism Ticker fell 21.9% compared with the same period in 2019. The tourism tax revenue in the cities was up 5.2% in 2019.

Montine McNulty, CEO of the Arkansas Hospitality Association, said without revenue from quick-service franchise restaurants the losses would have been deeper. She said “independent homegrown restaurants” are at most risk during the pandemic.

“The cities reporting have gone from record-breaking collections in the first two months of the year to a 21.9% decrease. Without swift help from our state and federal government, closures of restaurants and hospitality businesses will happen at a rapid rate,” McNulty said.

The tourism industry entered 2020 following a robust 2019, and for the first two months of 2020, collections were up 3.8%, the state’s 2% tourism tax revenue was up 13.2%, and the average monthly job numbers were down only 0.04%.

Collections of Arkansas’ 2% tourism set a new record in 2019 and hospitality tax collections among 17 Arkansas cities surveyed for the Arkansas Tourism Ticker topped the $53 million mark in 2019. The year marked the fifth consecutive year of growth as measured by the Arkansas Tourism Ticker.

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.

Results for the Jan.-June 2020 Tourism Ticker report are:
• 21.9% decrease
Hospitality tax revenue in Jan.-June 2020 among 17 Arkansas cities reviewed for the Arkansas Tourism Ticker compared with the same period in 2019

• 30.4% decrease
Collections of Arkansas’ 2% statewide tourism tax in Jan.-June 2020 compared with the same period in 2019

• 13.7% decrease
Decrease in monthly average of Arkansas’ tourism industry jobs in Jan.-June 2020 compared with the same period in 2019

Combined hospitality tax collections in the 17 cities totaled $20.844 million in Jan.-June 2020, down 21.9% compared with the $26.692 million in the same period in 2019.

The combined hospitality tax collections in the 17 cities totaled $53.49 million in 2019, up 5.2% compared with the $49.319 million in 2018.

Restaurant (prepared food tax) tax collections among the 17 cities totaled $16.509 million in Jan.-June 2020, down 16.3% compared with the $19.731 million in the same period of 2019. Hotel tax collections among the 17 cities totaled $4.335 million in Jan.-June 2020, down 37.7% compared with the $6.96 million in the same period of 2019.

All 17 of the cities surveyed for the Arkansas Tourism Ticker posted hospitality tax collection declines for the first six months with the declines ranging from 40.5% in El Dorado and 5.6% in Pine Bluff.

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

Talk Business & Politics Administrative Assistant Kathy Reed contributed to this report.

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