Arkansas State Parks, Heritage and Tourism Commissioner Stacey Hurst has seen ups and downs in the industry she oversees. She couldn’t be happier with the recovery of tourism in a post-pandemic world.2021:
- State parks have recorded record visitor numbers.
- Visitor spending exceeded $8 billion, up 33%.
- Exceeded $1.1 billion in tourism tax collections.When
- The hospitality industry recorded 64,144 jobs, up 23%
“I’m not really surprised. We saw a drop in collections in 2020, which was expected. Heading in, I knew it would probably come back strong with people flocking to Arkansas, and like I said before, there’s never been a better time to be natural. We really saw it in 2021,” she said.
Speaking to Talk Business & Politics this week, Hurst said solid marketing helped the company recover in 2021 and expects 2022 and 2023 to be even better.
“I think we made a really good decision on advertising and marketing. “We created a new message inviting people to enjoy the . And it resonated with people. In the meantime, our moniker really worked: Natural State,” she said.
“Now we’ve shifted. We moved to Arkansas in a struggling economy and are offering great value. That’s where we’re focused now. We’re traditional eggs. We’ve been marketing outside of Arkansas, and we’re doing very well, drawing people outside of Arkansas to the natural state. added Hurst.
New attractions are always important to diversifying Arkansas’ tourism offerings. For in-state and out-of-state travelers, Hirst said the two projects are a big boost for the state. one, Cold War Museum in Bryceville, where her department has just invested heavily.
“It’s a great project. When I was invited to visit it four years ago, I knew it had the potential to be a great interactive and educational opportunity for people of my age who remember the Cold War,” she said.
Another project that will be back online in 2023 is Arkansas Museum of Artformerly known as the Arkansas Arts Center.
“Thanks to the Crystal Bridge, Arkansas is now on the art-lover’s map. To incorporate both, we will be able to market to art lovers both nationally and internationally.These excellent museums.And I agree with you 100%, it is our tourism “It can be transformative,” she said.
As another note of hospitality, Nominated for Arkansas Food Hall of Fame it is open. Hirst says he already has nearly 1,000 nominations.
You can watch Hurst’s full interview in the video below.