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Area's No. 1 industry, tourism, keeps growing.

Hot Springs' No. 1 industry, tourism, has continued to show impressive growth during the past year, thanks to a continuing expansion Of the attractions the city offers and emphasis on its core marketing concept: that the city a great place to visit and hold conventions,

"Our steady growth in the tourism industry in Hot Springs has been based on the proposition that new attractions attract new visitors and give existing visitors a reason to come back and see us again," said Steve Arrison, executive director of the Hot Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau. "This is not to say that our wonderful base of attractions is any less responsible for our success as Arkansas' No. 1 tourism destination."

Arrison continued, "Our lakes, mountains, natural beauty, the thermal waters, arts community, shopping and 50 family attractions remain among our greatest magnets for visitors.

"But we have not been content to rely on these tried-and-true attractions as our only means of drawing increasing numbers of visitors. Oaklawn Park, Magic Springs & Crystal FallS and Garvan Woodland Gardens all have ongoing expansions and improvements that give our visitors fresh reasons to come see us and to keep coming back for new and exciting things to do and see.

"Oaklawn continues to expand its purses to attract the best Thoroughbreds in the world for our spring live racing meet. In addition, it has continued to offer more in the way of electronic games of skill to augment the live racing. Our citizens have given the track permission to expand those games of skill even more in the upcoming 2007 race meet and during the year-round simulcast season. That sort of strategic planning extends our marketing reach exponentially.

"Magic Springs & Crystal Fails has added world-class major new rides such as the X Coaster inversion coaster that is the tallest in the world. It also continues to expand its Timberwood Summer Concert Series. This summer it had 17 outdoor concerts that brought thousands of people to the park and city. The park realizes that new things bring in new customers, and that is what tourism marketing is all about.

"Garvan Woodland Gardens, one of America's premier arboretums, is getting ready to dedicate the Anthony Chapel designed by associates of the late legendary architect Fay Jones. That chapel already is stirring buzz across the country, and we fully expect thousands of new visitors to come to Hot Springs to see that beautiful jewel and then spend time seeing all the rest that the city has to offer."

"We continue to see growth in our meetings and conventions business, thanks to the vision of our citizens in allowing us to expand the Hot Springs Convention Center by adding the Summit Arena. The arena has enabled us to land the 2007 Arkansas High School Basketball Championships and to bring to the city in August 2007 the biggest bass fishing tournament in the world, the FLW Championship, which will offer for the first time a $1 million prize to the winner," Arrison said.

"We also have seen the growth of our special events business, with our World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade attracting more than 10,000 people to the downtown area for what amounts to a citywide party on March 17. Our Stueart Pennington Running of the Tubs bathtub races packed the downtown area in its inaugural edition last May, and the 2007 tub races will be even bigger and more Fun. We are looking at other exciting and unusual events that will focus attention on the city and attract even more visitors to Hot Springs," he continued.

"Tourism is healthy and growing in Hot Springs, and we intend to keep working continually to see that this growth extends into the future."
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Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Sep 25, 2006
Words:620
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