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State tourism grows: parks and tourism takes advantage of Clinton presidency.

TOURISM IN ARKANSAS INcreased by more than 10 percent in 1992, and there is every prospect for more improvement this year.

Joe David Rice, director of tourism at the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, says some of the state's tourism publications are featuring President Clinton.

"We've got to walk a pretty fine line as far as trying to exploit the election, but doing it tastefully at the same time," Rice says. "We're trying to work with the four communities in Arkansas that can lay the biggest claim to him--Hope, Hot Springs, Fayetteville and Little Rock.

"We're calling it a presidential cities package, and we hope that those four cities will do a brochure and the state will do a piece to wrap around that."

Arkansas targets an "egg-shaped region" in the middle of the country to attract potential tourists, Rice says.

The region, which consists of 43 areas of dominant influence, extends from Minneapolis to New Orleans, from west of Fort Worth, Texas, to east of Memphis, Tenn.

"We have a strategic plan that has been laid out for a couple of years that continually reminds us to stick to our game plan," Rice says. "We have recorded some remarkable success stories in the last couple of years. We think we're doing the right things.

"We know that folks are coming here because they like our scenery, our diversity, our friendliness. We need to concentrate on those major draws and bring in Clinton as well."

Research shows the state is attracting a more affluent, sophisticated traveler.

"And those people are staying longer and spending more money," Rice says.

Pulaski County No. 1

Pulaski County is again the No. 1 tourist attraction in the state based on receipts from Arkansas' 2 percent gross receipt sales tax at hotels, motels, bed and breakfast inns, camp grounds, marinas and tourist attractions.

From January through November, the latest figures available, the gross receipts from those locations in Pulaski County totaled $55.9 million.

Garland County was second with gross receipts of $32.9 million.

A more detailed look at travel expenditures by county will not be available for another few weeks, says Charles McLemore, the director of research and information services at Parks and Tourism.

Those figures take into account many more statistics than just hotel and motel receipts. Based on those figures, Pulaski County had $536 million in total travel expenditures in 1991.

Examining tourism based solely on the hotel and motel tax can give a skewed picture, according to McLemore.

For example, Stone County, which ranked No. 13 among counties for travel expenditures in 1991, ranks 38th in gross hotel and motel receipts for the first 11 months of 1992.

If someone owns several hotels in different counties but has an accountant in one city pay the tax for all the hotels, the total tax received would show up in only one county, McLemore says.

Some counties in the state have large tourist attractions, such as Mountain View in Stone County but may have only a few hotels. Therefore, the hotel and motel tax would not give a fair representation of the number of tourists in that county, McLemore says.
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Title Annotation:Arkansas's tourist industry
Author:Smith, David (American novelist)
Publication:Arkansas Business
Article Type:Industry Overview
Date:Mar 1, 1993
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