Arkansas Tourism Ticker: Job numbers rise, 2% tourism tax sets new record

by Michael Tilley ([email protected]) 1,029 views 

Arkansas’ tourism industry continues to show robust gains in the first half of 2023 even when compared to a record-setting 2022. The sector posted record employment of 131,800 in May, and record 2% tourism tax revenue in June.

Arkansas’ 2% tourism tax revenue between January and June was $12.74 million, up 8.9% compared with the $11.701 million in the same period of 2022. Revenue in each month of 2023 set a new record, with those gains compared to record numbers in 2022. A record for monthly collections was set in June 2023 with $2.71 million.

The tourism tax revenue in 2022 was $24.049 million, up 17% compared with the $20.544 million in 2021. During 2022, revenue set a record in June 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.

“These numbers are a great testament to the work ethic and passion of those who work in the Arkansas Hospitality industry. From our natural resources to the people and establishments that make up the fabric of the Hospitality community, this state has so much to offer. We look forward to working hard and ensuring continued growth in Arkansas’s second largest industry,” said Katie Beck, CEO of the Arkansas Hospitality Association.

January-June hospitality tax collections among 17 cities surveyed for the Arkansas Tourism Ticker were up 8.6% compared with the same period in 2022. Steve Arrison, CEO of Visit Hot Springs and the Hot Springs Convention Center & Bank OZK Arena, said August hospitality tax revenue – while not part of the data in this report – set a new record.

“Biggest collection month in our history, only the second time we have gone over the million dollar collection mark,” he said in a note to Talk Business & Politics.

The first month the tally was above $1 million was $1.001 million in April, which was up 12.6% compared with the same month in 2022.

Monthly average tourism sector jobs in January-June 2023 was 128,900, up 6.5% compared with 121,020 in the same period of 2022. During the first half of 2023, the sector reached record monthly employment of 131,800 in May. The sector had 124,400 jobs in June 2020, then fell precipitously to an estimated 74,100 in June 2020.

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 January-June 2023 Tourism Ticker report are:
• 8.6% increase
Hospitality tax revenue in January-June 2023 among 17 Arkansas cities reviewed for the Arkansas Tourism Ticker compared with the same period in 2022

• 8.9% increase
Collections of Arkansas’ 2% statewide tourism tax in January-June 2023 compared with the same period in 2022

• 6.5% increase
Gain in monthly average of Arkansas’ tourism industry jobs in January-June 2023 compared with the same period in 2022

Link here for a PDF of the January-June 2023 Arkansas Tourism Ticker.

Kathy Reed with Talk Business & Politics contributed to this report.