LITTLE ROCK - The Arkansas tourism industry grew by 4.3
percent last year, which was the largest annual increase
Travelers through Arkansas spent $5.6 billion in 2011. The
number of travelers increased to more than 23 million, the
highest number in three years. That figure refers to the
number of "person-trips" made in Arkansas, which
is defined as one person traveling more than 50 miles from
home in one day, or one person staying overnight in paid
lodging away from home.
The Arkansas travel industry directly employed almost
59,000 people and paid $1.1 billion in salaries.
Travelers through Arkansas paid more than $405 million in
state and local taxes. One of those is the state tourism
tax, a 2 percent sales tax on tourist related items such as
fishing gear, boat rentals and hotel rooms. Last year
revenue from the tourism tax topped $12 million for the
first time since it was initiated in 1990. Proceeds from
the tax pay for marketing and promotion of Arkansas
The marketing efforts of the state Parks and Tourism
Department are concentrated in areas where people are most
likely to visit Arkansas tourist attractions. The top
markets are Dallas and Fort Worth, Houston, Memphis,
Shreveport, Tulsa and Springfield, Missouri.
The primary focus of our tourism ads are people aged 25 to
49, with an emphasis on women and families with children.
We market to senior citizens too, but not as much.
Our advertising also targets Kansas and Mississippi, with
secondary marketing in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky,
Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio.
Television commercials now appear on cable and satellite
networks as well as online television such as Hulu. A 2011
study found that 49 percent of television viewers say they
watch programming on the Internet as well as on traditional
TV. Also, the study found that 11 percent of viewers say
that they watch TV only on the Internet.
Ads for Arkansas tourist destinations appear on gas pumps
in central Arkansas and inside Walmart stores, on what is
called Checkout TV, in Dallas and northwest Arkansas.
The Parks and Tourism Department also places ads on radio,
in newspaper inserts and in magazines about travel, hunting
and fishing, the outdoors, women's interests (Family
Circle and Southern Living), arts and culture. Also, ads
appear in airline magazines (American, Southwest and
The department has made great strides with its web site,
which last year earned a number one market share when
measured against neighboring states and a top 10 position
among tourism web sites nationwide.
The Arkansas tourism web site, at www.Arkansas.com, had 4.7
million visits in 2011. That is up 13 percent over the
previous year. Those Internet browsers linked to Arkansas
tourism industry partners more than 1.1 million times. This
means that the Parks and Tourism Department web site is an
increasingly important gateway directing vacationers with
questions to Arkansas tourism businesses.
Five counties accounted for more than half the
travel-related spending in Arkansas - Pulaski, Garland,
Washington, Benton and Sebastian. However, in 63 of the
state's 75 counties travel spending totaled more than
$10 million. In 12 counties, travel expenditures were more
than $100 million last year.