Arkansas Tourism Ticker: Tourism sector in recovery, job numbers still lag 2019 records

by Michael Tilley ([email protected]) 373 views 

Hospitality tax collections show the Arkansas tourism industry is rebounding from 2020 and will break 2019 tax revenue collections, but the sector still lags record job numbers and hotel tax revenue posted in 2019, according to the Arkansas Tourism Ticker.

Arkansas’ 2% tourism tax revenue between January and August was $13.819 million, up 53.9% compared with the $8.981 million in the same period in 2020 and up 15.6% over the same period in 2019. The 2019 collections set a record for the tax. Collections of the tax set monthly records for the six months between March and August. July set a new series record for the tax with $2.486 million in revenue from the tax.

January-August hospitality tax collections among 17 cities surveyed for the Arkansas Tourism Ticker were up 30.6% compared with the same period in 2020, and up 3.9% compared with the same period in 2019. All 17 cities surveyed for the Arkansas Tourism Ticker posted hospitality tax collection increases in January-August 2021. The range of gains was 79.8% in Eureka Springs and 7.3% in Rogers.

Monthly average tourism sector jobs in Jan.-August 2021 was 110,500, up 6.7% compared with 103,530 in the same period of 2020. The 2021 period is on the average 10,740 jobs less, or down 8.9%, compared with the same period in 2019. The sector first reached record monthly employment of 122,900 in December 2019, then fell precipitously to an estimated 75,100 in April 2020.

The tourism industry entered 2021 following a year in which the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered much of the state and national economy for much of the year. The state’s 2% tourism tax revenue fell almost 23% in 2020, and fell to levels not seen since 2014. 2019 set several records for the sector in terms of hospitality tax revenue and job gains, and 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 2021 Tourism Ticker report are:
• 30.6% increase
Hospitality tax revenue in Jan.-August 2021 among 17 Arkansas cities reviewed for the Arkansas Tourism Ticker compared with the same period in 2020

• 53.9% increase
Collections of Arkansas’ 2% statewide tourism tax in Jan.-August 2021 compared with the same period in 2020

• 6.7% increase
Gain in monthly average of Arkansas’ tourism industry jobs in Jan.-August 2021 compared with the same period in 2020

Link here for the PDF of the complete January-August 2021 Arkansas Tourism Ticker.

Talk Business Administrative Assistant Kathy Reed contributed to this report.