Economic impact of tourism still on the rise for state and Independence County

Featured image: Arkansas Welcome Center Staff visited Batesville for a familiarization tour on Sept. 30. / Image via Batesville Area Chamber of Commerce

Arkansas hosted more than 32 million visitors in 2018 who spent $7.37 billion in total travel expenditures, $408 million in state taxes and $161 million in local taxes, according to data released by the Division of Arkansas Tourism last week.

Total travel expenditures in Independence County were up by 4.2 percent for a total of $44,329.127.94 in 2018. Other local figures include $8,703,541 in tourism-generated payroll, 502 tourism-generated jobs, and $988,685.19 in tourism-generated local tax, according to a release today from the Batesville Area Chamber of Commerce.

Tourism has been a priority for leaders in Independence County since 2016 when residents of Independence County came together to form the IMPACT Independence County community strategic plan, the chamber’s release noted.

Following the strategic plan’s release, the community added a full-time tourism director, an advertising and promotions commission, a community brand (Experience Independence), a wayfinding signage program, and has strategically recruited several large meetings, conferences, and sporting events.

“Tourism can be the catalyst for continued economic growth and quality of life improvements for us in Independence County. We still have so many untapped resources and opportunities to grow that I feel like we have only scratched the surface of the true impact that tourism can bring to our community” said Kyle Christopher, tourism director for the chamber.

On Sept. 30, staff from the Arkansas Welcome Center visited the area on a familiarization tour. The Arkansas Welcome Center organization does familiarization tours in order for their staffs to experience state tourism highlights first-hand. Arkansas boasts fourteen Welcome Centers along strategic entry points on Arkansas highways. The centers are a partnership between the Arkansas Department of Transportation and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.

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