Tourism continued to have a strong economic impact on Arkansas in 2019. Data released from the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism showed just under 69,000 worked directly within Arkansas’ travel industry in 2019, a 1.4% increase over 2018.
“And these ambassadors greeted more than 36 million visitors to The Natural State in 2019, a 10.2% increase,” a press release said.
The Division of Tourism’s 2019 economic impact report, shows tourism remains a vital part of Arkansas’ economy. Total travel expenditures were up 4.2% in 2019 throughout the state. The 2% tourism tax rose 7.5% over 2018.
“This growth in revenue allows our state to market the Arkansas tourism message nationally and internationally, delivering to our industry partners new and returning visitors year over year,” said Stacy Hurst, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism. “The Arkansas experience invites travelers to immerse themselves in the local flavor and the quality of life that exists here. Our successes over the past decade of growth will help as we prepare for the impact of 2020.”
Other travel-generated revenues also were up in 2019, including local tax (up 5.4%), payroll (5.1%), state tax (5.3%), and federal tax (4.9%). It is unknown how much the COVID-19 pandemic will impact the economic impact of tourism throughout the state in 2020.
“Tourism is vital to Arkansas’s economic prosperity,” said Travis Napper, director of the Division of Tourism. “2020 has presented significant setbacks, but we continue to explore new opportunities to sustain growth. We’ve worked to inspire travel by participating in national campaigns such as ‘Let’s Go There’ with the U.S. Travel Association. And in collaboration with other state agencies and partners, we’ve worked to inform the public that ‘Arkansas is Ready for Travel.’”
Arkansas’ 2% tourism tax revenue between January and June of 2020 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. 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.