Little Rock, AR (October 23, 2023) – Arkansas Tourism is now a $9.2 billion industry, according to an economic impact study commissioned by the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism.
The study, conducted by Tourism Economics with input from DK Shifflet, says 48.3 million people visited Arkansas in calendar year 2022, up 15.4% from 41.2 million visitors in 2021. Those additional visitors spent another $1.2 billion from the 2021 figures.
“We can, with great confidence, say that Arkansas’ tourism industry has fully recovered – and then some – from setbacks of the Covid pandemic,” said Shea Lewis, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism.
The highest spend categories by visitors in 2022 were in transportation, food, and lodging. According to the study, lodging accounted for the largest increase in overall visitor spending – up 23% from 2021.
“The lodging numbers are very important because the greatest bulk of 2% Tourism Reinvestment Tax dollars are generated by our lodging partners,” said Lewis. “Those dollars are almost entirely paid by out-of-state visitors and is used to fund our very successful marketing efforts.”
The 2022 2% collections increased 15.8% to $24.3 million.
Overall, $752 million in tax receipts from visitors were collected, which is a 15.2% increase. Of the total, $536 million were for state taxes while the remaining $216 million went into local coffers.
The study says each Arkansas household would need to pay an additional $866 annually to replace visitor-generated taxes received by the state of Arkansas and local municipalities.
The Arkansas Tourism industry also supported 68,098 jobs, for a 6% increase from 2021, earning $2.1 billion. For perspective, tourism supports 3.9% of all jobs in Arkansas.
The report also provided insight as to the indirect and induced impacts from tourism activity in Arkansas. Indirect impact, which is also known as the supply-chain effect, refers to the purchase of goods and services purchased by industry operators. Induced impact is generated when tourism industry employees spend their wages in the local economy. Together, the indirect and induced impact was $6.5 billion.
When all is considered, tourism’s impact on Arkansas’ economy was $15.7 billion in 2022, its total employment was 97,839 jobs and state and local taxes exceeded $1 billion.
“We are quite pleased with the results of the 2022 economic impact study,” Lewis said. “These outstanding numbers are a direct result of our renewed emphasis on growing our outdoor recreational economy whether it be various forms of biking, climbing, watersports, hunting and fishing. Our marketing message is effective, and we are taking that message into new markets and effectively attracting new visitors who can enjoy The Natural State all year long.”
More details of the economic impact study, including county level data, can be viewed at https://www.arkansas.com/industry-insider/research/economic-impact-report.
Tourism Economics is a global company engaged in tourism research to help guide marketing strategies and public policy decisions.
Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism
The Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism protects and promotes our state’s natural, cultural and historic assets, contributing to a thriving economy and high quality of life. It is made up of three divisions: Arkansas State Parks, Arkansas Heritage, and Arkansas Tourism.