Arkansas Tourism Ticker: Tourism industry ends 2020 with significant losses

by Michael Tilley ([email protected]) 838 views 

Arkansas’ travel and tourism industry, which was enjoying more than a decade of growth, posted double-digit percentage declines in key categories in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic that hit the state in March 2020.

Arkansas’ 2% tourism tax revenue in 2020 was $13.61 million, down 22.7% compared with the $17.608 million in 2019. The full year number is a slight improvement compared with the 24.9% decline 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-December hospitality tax collections among 17 cities surveyed for the Arkansas Tourism Ticker fell 18% compared with 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 in the 17 cities 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 January-December 2020 Tourism Ticker report are:
• 18% decrease
Hospitality tax revenue in January-December 2020 among 17 Arkansas cities reviewed for the Arkansas Tourism Ticker compared with 2019

• 22.7% decrease
Collections of Arkansas’ 2% statewide tourism tax in January-December 2020 compared with 2019

• 14.35% decrease
Decrease in monthly average of Arkansas’ tourism industry jobs in January-December 2020 compared with 2019

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