Tourists spend $7.2 billion in The Natural State


The positive economic impact of tourism in Arkansas continues to be significant, according to datarecently released from the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism (ADPT). In 2015, the state hosted more than 28 million visitors, who spent $7.2 billion in total travel expenditures, $374 million in state taxes and $137 million in local taxes. ADPT’s 2015-2016 Annual Report, online at services, illustrates that tourism remains vital to Arkansas’ economy.

“These strong numbers provide further evidence of tourism’s importance to the economy of Arkansas. It is a vital industry, an economic-development driver, and it is growing,” said Kane Webb, executive director of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.

The 2 percent tourism development trust fund broke a nine-year record for percentage of growth in fiscal year 2015; one of the highlights was the month of June 2015 when, for the first time ever, the collections exceeded $1.5 million. And that record has now been overshadowed; in the current fiscal year, two additional months have already exceeded $1.5 million in tax collection — July and October.

“Arkansas’ tourism experience continues to improve. Key additions such as the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home in Dyess, the Scott Family Amazeum in Bentonville, the renovated lodge at Queen Wilhelmina State Park, and the Frank Lloyd Wright house at Crystal Bridges offer our guests even more exciting options,” said Joe David Rice, Arkansas tourism director.


Queen Wilhelmina State Park, and its lodge, is a major tourism destination. Photo by Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

Among the other key findings:

• Travel expenditures increased from $6,698,501,022 in 2014 to $7,280,600,761 in 2015.

• The number of visitors increased from 25,885,046 in 2014 to 28,117,891 in 2015.

• Average expenditures per travel party were $258.93.

• The top five states from which visitors to Arkansas Welcome Centers originated were: 1) Arkansas, 2)

Texas, 3) Missouri, 4) Louisiana and 5) Oklahoma.

Source: Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism


Join the Great American Cleanup in Arkansas

CU-KAB-Logo-May-16Arkansans who are committed to cleaning up their communities to enhance their appearance, inspire civic pride and attract tourism can volunteer in local Great American Cleanup events across the state throughout May.

Volunteers are encouraged to search the Calendar of Events at to find a local event. Starting in April and continuing through this month, 55 events in counties across the state have taken place or are scheduled, and more are being added each week.

“The Great American Cleanup is an excellent opportunity for Arkansans to make a positive impact on the environment, the state and their local communities,” said Elizabeth Philpott, Keep Arkansas Beautiful (KAB) volunteer program manager.

Those interested in coordinating a cleanup event can register the event at, email or call 888-742- 8701 toll-free. Once registered, KAB will work with the cleanup coordinator to plan and publicize the local events, and provide volunteers with trash bags, gloves, safety vests and other cleanup supplies.

The KAB Commission, consisting of a professional program staff and a nine-member, governor-appointed advisory board, is a division of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. As a certified state affiliate of Keep America Beautiful Inc., it works to inspire and educate individuals to reduce litter, recycle and keep Arkansas beautiful. KAB’s operations and programs are funded through its 1-percent portion of the eighth-cent Conservation Tax. By mobilizing volunteers, KAB returns to the state a benefit of more than $6 in community service for each program dollar spent. For more information, visit

Keeping summer fun

Summer is almost here! That means it’s time for baseball games, barbecues, camping trips and other vacations. However, it’s also a time for continued learning, whether you’re staying at home or exploring your community and beyond.

Research shows that children who don’t read over the summer risk losing up to three months of important skills they obtained during the school year, and for students from economically disadvantaged communities, as many as 80 percent are at risk of falling behind academically.

CU-kids-May16“The summer learning slide is an issue for most children,” said Carol H. Rasco, president and CEO of Reading Is Fundamental. “To minimize learning loss, we have developed activities and booklists to inspire the imaginations of children of all ages this summer.”

Whether families are planning a staycation or a vacation to a far away destination, reading and sharing stories together is easier than ever. In your own backyard Staycations aren’t just for those on a limited budget; they provide an opportunity for the family to research and explore places in their neighborhoods.

• Visit a museum or art gallery. When you get home, use sidewalk chalk to make your own mural or paint your own masterpiece.

• Have a “book-nic.” Grab a blanket, snacks and books to celebrate a beautiful summer day together.

• Visit the library and check out books about local birds or insects. Go on an adventure walk to see what ones you can find in your neighborhood.

On the go

Vacations and adventures are filled with easy ways to expand your child’s mind, vocabulary and creative side.

• Hit the library before you leave, or download 50 free e-books at, to make sure everyone in the family has a book to enjoy during downtime.

• Browse online and look at maps together to identify where you will visit, how far you will travel and keep track of any must-see places or must-do activities along your route.

• Write letters to friends and family. Tell them all about your adventures away from home.

• Keep an explorer’s journal. Draw pictures of your favorite sites and keep notes about what you learned and how places differ from home.

For a full list of recommended books for children and downloadable summer-themed activities, visit

Source: Reading Is Fundamental, Family Features