LITTLE ROCK – One of the important economic engines in the cities and counties that make up the Southwest Arkansas Regional Intermodal Authority is tourism. The positive economic impact of tourism in Arkansas continues to be significant, according to data released from the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism. In 2019, just under 69,000 Arkansans worked directly within the travel industry, a 1.4 percent increase over 2018. And these ambassadors greeted more than 36 million visitors to The Natural State in 2019, a 10.2 percent increase.
The Division of Tourism’s 2019 economic impact report, online at Arkansas.com, illustrates that tourism remains vital to Arkansas’s economy.
Arkansas’s total travel expenditures were also up 4.2 percent in 2019. And the 2 percent tourism tax revenue rose 7.5 percent over 2018 figures, one of the largest increases in the past decade.
“This growth in revenue allows our state to market the Arkansas tourism message nationally and internationally, delivering to our industry partners new and returning visitors year over year,” said Stacy Hurst, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism. “The Arkansas experience invites travelers to immerse themselves in the local flavor and the quality of life that exists here. Our successes over the past decade of growth will help as we prepare for the impact of 2020.”
Among the other key findings for 2019:
• Travel-generated local tax is up 5.4 percent.
• Travel-generated payroll is up 5.1 percent.
• Travel-generated state tax is up 5.3 percent.
• Travel-generated federal tax is up 4.9 percent.
“Tourism is vital to Arkansas’s economic prosperity,” said Travis Napper, director of the Division of Tourism. “2020 has presented significant setbacks, but we continue to explore new opportunities to sustain growth. We’ve worked to inspire travel by participating in national campaigns such as ‘Let’s Go There’ with the U.S. Travel Association. And in collaboration with other state agencies and partners, we’ve worked to inform the public that ‘Arkansas is Ready for Travel.’”