Arkansas Tourism Ticker: State tourism tax likely to set new record, but hotel numbers lag

by Michael Tilley ([email protected]) 662 views 

The good news about Arkansas’ tourism industry is the state’s 2% tourism tax is on pace to top the $20 million mark for the first time in 2021. The not-so-good news is tourism job numbers are 8.3% below pre-pandemic levels and hotel tax revenue still lags.

Arkansas’ 2% tourism tax revenue between January and October was $17.582 million, up 50% compared with the $11.72 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 October. July set a new series record for the tax with $2.486 million in revenue from the tax.

January-October hospitality tax collections among 17 cities surveyed for the Arkansas Tourism Ticker were up 30.1% compared with the same period in 2020, and up 5.6% compared with the same period in 2019, according to the Arkansas Tourism Ticker.

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.-October 2021 Tourism Ticker report are:
• 30.1% increase
Hospitality tax revenue in Jan.-October 2021 among 17 Arkansas cities reviewed for the Arkansas Tourism Ticker compared with the same period in 2020

• 50% increase
Collections of Arkansas’ 2% statewide tourism tax in Jan.-October 2021 compared with the same period in 2020

• 7.6% increase
Gain in monthly average of Arkansas’ tourism industry jobs in Jan.-October 2021 compared with the same period in 2020

Link here for the full PDF report on the January-October numbers.