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Arkansas first: state proves popular with tourists.

The Natural State is a natural with tourists.

According to the 1990 "Arkansas Travel and Tourism Report," released in March by the state Department of Parks and Tourism, almost 16 million visitors spent $2.3 billion last year.

That breaks down to 43,000 travelers per day.

The visitors from every part of the country paid $108 million in state taxes and $27 million in local taxes.

A survey of the state's 12 tourism information centers showed Texas topping the list of states that supply travelers, followed by Arkansas itself.

Missouri was third, followed by Oklahoma and Louisiana, respectively.

In a repeat of the 1989 survey, Illinois was sixth, followed by Mississippi, Tennessee, Michigan and California.

According to state figures, Texas sent 87,668 vehicles into Arkansas, up slightly from 87,167 in 1989.

West Memphis' tourism information center edged out the Texarkana center as the one visited most in 1990. West Memphis had 214,579 visitors, compared with 214,233 at Texarkana.

The state conducted a survey in 1990 that further proved Arkansas' popularity with tourists. It received 405,726 requests for information on traveling in Arkansas. Then, 10,000 of those requesting information were questioned in an effort to determine how many actually made a trip to Arkansas.

Of those surveyed:

* 44 percent said they intended to visit Arkansas.

* Almost two-thirds planned to visit the state within a year.

* An average of $532 was spent per trip, $347.85 of that in Arkansas.

Making Money

The number of people visiting Arkansas proves the power of the Natural State campaign.

But that number is nothing compared with the financial figures, according to Joe David Rice, the Parks and Tourism Department's director of tourism.

"The cash register, that's more accurate," says Rice, pointing to tax collections in some of Arkansas' most-visited cities -- Little Rock, Eureka Springs, Fort Smith, Van Buren and Fayetteville. "All of those cities are reporting increases."

Last year's $2.3 billion spent by tourists was a slight increase from the $2.15 billion spent in 1989.

"Percentagewise, it was quite small," Rice says of the increase. "But we weren't really expecting major increases. We were just in the early stages of our major campaigns."

A major tourism push began in 1990. The state purchased television and radio spots, in addition to space in local and regional magazines and newspapers.

"We were trying to make our presence felt," Rice says.

Pulaski County reaped the most profits from the 1990 campaign with $488,766,742 spent by 2,998,431 visitors.

Pulaski County also led the state in travel-generated employment with 10,169 jobs related to the tourism industry.

Garland County was second with 1,691,749 travelers spending $43,303,433 last year.
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Title Annotation:Arkansas Business Rankings
Author:Taylor, Tim
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Nov 4, 1991
Previous Article:Eureka's year-round appeal.
Next Article:Arkansas business rankings: tourism.

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