Arkansas’ leisure and hospitality sector continues to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic induced recession in 2020. Hospitality tax collections, tourism jobs and the state’s 2% tourism tax posted healthy gains in the first four months of 2022.
Arkansas’ 2% tourism tax revenue in the January-April period was $6.834 million, up 32.3% compared with the $5.166 million in the same period of 2021 and up 37.7% over the same period in pre-pandemic 2019. The 2021 collections of the tax ($20.544 million) set an annual record for the tax, and each of the first four months of 2022 set new monthly records.
January-April hospitality tax collections among 17 cities surveyed for the Arkansas Tourism Ticker were up 20.6% compared with the same period in 2021, and up 43.1% compared with the same period in 2020.
“The latest tourism ticker numbers reflect robust increases in revenue and jobs throughout the state’s second largest industry. It is encouraging to see a nearly 10% increase in tourism sector jobs as the industry continues toward recovery and pre-pandemic staffing levels,” said Katie Beck, CEO of the Arkansas Hospitality Association.
The tourism industry entered 2022 from a rebound year in 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic shuttered much of the state and national economy for much of 2020 and into 2021. The state’s 2% tourism tax revenue fell almost 23% in 2020, and fell to levels not seen since 2014. 2019 set several records for the sector in terms of hospitality tax revenue and job gains, and marked the fifth consecutive year of growth as measured by the Arkansas Tourism Ticker.
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 US Bureau of Labor Statistics; and
• Collections of Arkansas’ 2% statewide tourism tax.
Results for the Jan.-April 2022 Tourism Ticker report are:
• 20.6% increase
Hospitality tax revenue in Jan.-April 2022 among 17 Arkansas cities reviewed for the Arkansas Tourism Ticker compared with the same period in 2021
• 32.3% increase
Collections of Arkansas’ 2% statewide tourism tax in Jan.-April 2022 compared with the same period in 2021
• 9.9% increase
Gain in monthly average of Arkansas’ tourism industry jobs in Jan.-April 2022 compared with the same period in 2021
The combined hospitality tax collections in the 17 cities totaled $20,108 million in Jan.-April 2022, up 20.6% compared with the $16.674 million in the same period in 2021. Collections were also up 17.4% above the $17.131 million in the same pre-pandemic period of 2019.
Monthly average tourism sector jobs in Jan.-April 2022 was 121,150, up 9.9% compared with 110,200 in the same period of 2021. The sector first reached record monthly employment of 122,900 in December 2019, the fell precipitously to an estimated 75,000 in April 2021 .
Link here for the PDF of the full Arkansas Tourism Ticker report.