Arkansas Tourism Ticker: COVID-19 still pushes double-digit declines in tourism sector

by Michael Tilley ([email protected]) 346 views 

While the pace of decline is slowing somewhat, Arkansas’ tourism industry continues to face daunting economic headwinds for large and small businesses in a sector likely to not see real relief until COVID-19 is better contained.

Arkansas’ 2% tourism tax revenue between January and August was $8.981 million, down 24.9% compared with the $11.953 million in the same period in 2019. The August number is a slight improvement compared with the 30.4% decline through June. The tax was up 7.2% in 2019. February revenue of $1.366 million set a new monthly record for the tax.

January-August hospitality tax collections among 17 cities surveyed for the Arkansas Tourism Ticker fell 20.6% compared with the same period in 2019. The decline is an improvement compared with the 21.9% decline between January and June. The tourism tax revenue in the cities was up 5.2% in 2019.

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.-August 2020 Tourism Ticker report are:
• 20.6% decrease
Hospitality tax revenue in Jan.-August 2020 among 17 Arkansas cities reviewed for the Arkansas Tourism Ticker compared with the same period in 2019

• 24.9% decrease
Collections of Arkansas’ 2% statewide tourism tax in Jan.-August 2020 compared with the same period in 2019

• 14.6% decrease
Decrease in monthly average of Arkansas’ tourism industry jobs in Jan.-August 2020 compared with the same period in 2019

Montine McNulty, director of the Arkansas Hospitality Association, said some situations are improving and encouraged Arkansans to support businesses in the industry.

“The tourism industry continues to be negatively impacted by COVID. More businesses are open now but operating at restricted limits for number of guests which makes it difficult to survive economically. Our restaurants, hotels and attractions are very well trained and ready to keep you safe and would welcome your business. The hospitality industry needs your business,” McNulty said.

The combined hospitality tax collections in the 17 cities totaled $28.716 million in Jan.-August 2020, down 20.6% compared with the $36.173 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.

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

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