Arkansas Tourism Ticker: Gains seen but tourism industry still being hit hard

by Michael Tilley ([email protected]) 286 views 

Arkansas’ travel and tourism industry is showing slight improvement but is not close to returning to the record-setting trends of 2019 that were continuing into early 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the state economy.

Arkansas’ 2% tourism tax revenue between January and October was $11.72 million, down 23% compared with the $15.204 million in the same period in 2019. The October number is a slight improvement compared with the 24.9% through August and 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-October hospitality tax collections among 17 cities surveyed for the Arkansas Tourism Ticker fell 18.8% compared with the same period in 2019. The biggest hit was in lost revenue from hotel collections. The decline is an improvement compared with the 20.6% decline between January and August, and s 21.9% decline between January and June. Total 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.-October 2020 Tourism Ticker report are:
• 18.8% decrease
Hospitality tax revenue in Jan.-October 2020 among 17 Arkansas cities reviewed for the Arkansas Tourism Ticker compared with the same period in 2019

• 23% decrease
Collections of Arkansas’ 2% statewide tourism tax in Jan.-October 2020 compared with the same period in 2019

• 14.8% decrease
Decrease in monthly average of Arkansas’ tourism industry jobs in Jan.-October 2020 compared with the same period in 2019

Link here for the full Arkansas Tourism Ticker report.

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