Experience Fayetteville earns two Henry Awards at state tourism conference

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 252 views 

Art Court, a unique basketball court enhanced with murals, sculpture, and a virtual reality experience, received the Natural State Tourism Development Award.

Experience Fayetteville, the city’s destination marketing organization, was named Tourism Organization of the Year during the 49th annual Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism recently in El Dorado. The organization also claimed The Natural State Tourism Development Award for Art Court, a unique basketball court enhanced with murals, sculpture, and a virtual reality experience.

“We’ve been working hard to amplify the message that Fayetteville is a vibrant, forward-thinking place to live, work and play,” Experience Fayetteville CEO Molly Rawn said. “There are great things happening in Arkansas, and we’re proud to have our work considered alongside that of our other great cities.

“I’m so proud of our talented team, and I look forward to breaking more HMR records with them and encouraging more visitors to come experience Fayetteville.”

The Tourism Organization of the Year honor is presented to “a convention and visitors bureau, advertising and promotion commission, chamber of commerce or other entity for excellence over the course of the previous year,” according to the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism.

According to a news release, Experience Fayetteville broke HMR (Hotel, Motel, Restaurant) tax records with a 144% year-over-year increase in lodging HMR tax collections for January 2022 and a 10.5% increase in sales tax revenue compared with January 2021.

Fayetteville hotels, motels, and short-term rentals collected more HMR taxes in January 2022 than in any other January, as thousands of fans, cyclists, team personnel, officials, and vendors filled up rooms across the city for the 2022 Walmart UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships.

Experience Fayetteville’s ArtCourt was recognized as an “innovative project with a unique appeal or creative approach that increases pride and placemaking,” according to the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism.

According to the release, Experience Fayetteville and development partner Tyson Family Foundation built ArtCourt at 227 W. Dickson St. as an immersive and experimental community space that plays at the intersection of art and sport.

The space was originally a family-owned garage in the 1940s and has been home to everything from Dickson Street Theater, Art Amiss, a church, fashion shows and decades of great music.

“ArtCourt, part basketball court, roller skate park, public art, gym, hangout, you name it … it has ultimately become whatever the community wants it to be,” says Olivia Tyson, President of Tyson Family Foundation. “Today, it sits at the heart of the street’s lively nightlife scene and active pedestrian sidewalk, and we hope it continues to be a place visitors and residents make their own. We are proud to earn this honor from our peers who recognize what can happen when progressive partnerships come together to breathe new life into an old space.”

Named for Henri de Tonti, founder of Arkansas Post in 1686, the Henry Awards have been a feature of the annual Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism since their debut in 1981.