Arkansas Set Visitor Record in 2021 as Tourism Industry Continued Recovery

Arkansas Set Visitor Record in 2021 as Tourism Industry Continued Recovery
Hot Springs National Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas, one of the state's top tourist destinations (Shutterstock)

Arkansas saw a record number of visitors in 2021 as the tourism industry's recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic continued, according to the state Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism's annual economic impact report.

More than 41.3 million people visited the state, a 41.4% increase from 2020 and up 13.8% from 2019. Visitor spending last year totaled about $8 billion, 33% higher than 2020 and on par with 2019.

National Park visitation in Arkansas jumped 23% above its 2019 pre-pandemic level to just under four million visits, while hunting and fishing licenses issued to non-residents more than doubled the tally in 2019.

"These numbers illustrate that Arkansas is in the midst of a public perception turning point when it comes to our national profile as a tourist destination," Parks, Heritage and Tourism Secretary Stacy Hurst said in the report.

More: Click here to read the full report.

The tourism industry accounted for about $1.1 billion in total tax collections last year, with more than $653 million collected at the state and local level.

Spending grew across all sectors, driven by both pent-up demand as well as price increases for lodging and transportation, the department reported. The average hotel room rate at hotels in the state increased 13% last year.

The department reported strong job recovery in key tourism industries, reaching 98% of pre-pandemic numbers in the restaurant industry, 96% in recreational businesses and 89% in lodging. 

More On This Story