Thursday, July 21, 2011

Week In Review

State Capitol Week in Review

LITTLE ROCK – Tourism's contribution to the Arkansas economy increased about 1.4 percent last year, from $5.38 billion to $5.45 billion.

The number of visitors to the state actually went down slightly, but their spending was up.

Industries that cater to travelers employed more than 58,000 Arkansans and paid $1 billion in salaries.

Based on surveys and information collected at welcome centers on the state's borders, Texas ranked highest as a state of origin for visitors. Missouri was second, followed by Oklahoma, Tennessee, Louisiana and Mississippi. Garland County was the top destination, followed by Pulaski, Carroll, Benton and Fulton Counties.

The state Parks and Tourism Department has identified these top urban markets for visitors to Arkansas: Dallas/Fort Worth, Memphis, Shreveport, Springfield and Tulsa.

For years the tourism department has bought television spots in those markets, both on broadcast networks and cable stations. Also, it places ads for Arkansas tourist destinations in magazines like Southern Living, Texas Monthly and AAA Southern Traveler.

Newspaper inserts that promote Arkansas tourism go into daily and weekly papers in Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma and Memphis.

In the past few years the department consistently worked to improve its web site and has increased online advertising on mass sites such as Yahoo and Facebook. It also places online ads on "niche" sites such as Field & Stream, iExplore and

Last year Arkansas tourism officials developed websites for mobile phones. People with a "smart" phone can search for vacation packages, events, hotels, restaurants and attractions through a variety of mobile phone links.

The Arkansas tourism website added a "Google mashup" feature last year. For example, when an Internet user opens a Google map to look for a location in Arkansas that person can instantly search for all cabins within a 50-mile radius, with links to each for additional details.

For several years the Parks and Tourism Department has relied on social media such as Facebook and Twitter to guide Internet users to its website.

The department's media strategy targets adults aged 25-54 with a focus on women and families with children. A secondary target group is adults over the age of 50 with an emphasis on women.

The primary markets are neighboring states, especially urban areas. For example, in the fall an advertising campaign for Arkansas tourism "saturated" the major interstates and downtown areas of Dallas with billboards and outdoor advertising. Secondary markets include Illinois and Kansas.

Niche markets abound. We offer destinations of interest to naturalists and birdwatchers, Civil War buffs, antique collectors, motorcyclists, people interested in the civil rights movement, hunters, fishermen, outdoors enthusiasts, sports fans, people on church retreats, art aficionados and music lovers.

A 2 percent sales tax on tourist-related items pays for advertising campaigns that promote Arkansas as a tourist destination. Revenue from the tourism tax increased by 1.1 percent last year to about $11.5 million. For the first few months of 2011 revenue from the tourism tax is on pace to grow by more than 3 percent over 2010.

No comments: