Arkansas Tourism Ticker: Tourism industry posts broad rebound from pandemic disruption

by Michael Tilley ([email protected]) 671 views 

Arkansas’ 2% tourism tax set a new record in 2021, and overall hospitality tax revenues in 17 cities surveyed for the Arkansas Tourism Ticker set a new record, but job numbers and hotel tax revenues are behind the pre-pandemic year of 2019.

Arkansas’ 2% tourism tax revenue between in 2021 was $20.544 million, up 51% compared with the $13.618 million in 2020 and up 16.7% over what was a record $17.608 million in 2019. July set a new series record for the tax with $2.486 million in revenue from the tax.

The 2021 hospitality tax collections among 17 cities surveyed for the Arkansas Tourism Ticker were up 31.3% compared with 2020, and up 7.7% compared with 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 2021 Tourism Ticker report are:
• 31.3% increase
Hospitality tax revenue in 2021 among 17 Arkansas cities reviewed for the Arkansas Tourism Ticker compared with 2020

• 51% increase
Collections of Arkansas’ 2% statewide tourism tax in 2021 compared with 2020

• 10.8% increase
Gain in monthly average of Arkansas’ tourism industry jobs in 2021 compared with 2020

Monthly average tourism sector jobs 2021 was 115,800, up 10.8% compared with 104,450 in 2020. The 2021 average 6,150 jobs less, or down 5%, compared with what was a record year for sector employment 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.

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