Arkansas Tourism Ticker: Data points to healthy tourism sector in early 2023
The state’s leisure and hospitality (tourism) sector continues in early 2023 with the significant gains posted in 2022. Arkansas’ tourism tax is up 15.7%, with tourism sector jobs up almost 5% in the first two months of 2023.
Arkansas’ 2% tourism tax revenue between January and February was $3.129 million, up 15.7% compared with the $2.704 million in the same period of 2022. The tourism tax revenue in 2022 was $24.049 million, up 17% compared with the $20.544 million in 2021. Revenue set a new monthly record in June 2022 of $2.528 million, with collections for each month topping $1 million for the first time.
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.
January-February hospitality tax collections among 17 cities surveyed for the Arkansas Tourism Ticker were up 16% compared with the same period in 2022.
“Starting 2023 with double-digit increases in hospitality and tourism tax revenue shows promising growth in Arkansas’s second largest industry,” noted Katie Beck, CEO of the Arkansas Hospitality Association. “While workforce continues to be one of the top challenges for businesses throughout the state, the rise in hospitality sector jobs is encouraging. Overall, these numbers are good news as we head into the busy summer season.”
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;
• 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-February 2023 Tourism Ticker report are:
• 16% increase
Hospitality tax revenue in January-February 2023 among 17 Arkansas cities reviewed for the Arkansas Tourism Ticker compared with the same period in 2022
• 15.7% increase
Collections of Arkansas’ 2% statewide tourism tax in January-February 2023 compared with the same period in 2022
• 4.8% increase
Gain in monthly average of Arkansas’ tourism industry jobs in January-February 2023 compared with the same period in 2022
The combined hospitality tax collections in the 17 cities (see PDF for a list of cities) totaled $10.434 million in January-February 2023, up 16% compared with the $8.99 million in the same period of 2022. All of the 17 cities surveyed for the Arkansas Tourism Ticker posted hospitality tax collection increases in January-February 2023 compared with the same period in 2022. Of the 17 cities, 12 posted double-digit percentage gains.
Monthly average tourism sector jobs in January-February 2023 was 126,500, up 4.8% compared with 120,700 in the same period of 2022. The sector reached record monthly employment of 126,600 in March. The sector had 124,400 jobs in February 2020, then fell precipitously to an estimated 74,100 in April 2020.
Inflation does play a part in the higher numbers. STR, the closely watched firm that tracks the lodging sector, reports that the U.S. average daily hotel rate is up 5.4% year-over-year as of May. The federal Consumer Price Index indicates that U.S. menu prices were up 8.6% in April compared with April 2022.
Link here for a PDF of the January-February 2023 Arkansas Tourism Ticker.