Visit Bentonville this week reported record revenue from tourism taxes in 2022, a sign of the city's growing profile as a destination for outdoor recreation, the arts and more.
Bentonville Advertising & Promotion tax collections surpassed $3.5 million last year, up 29% from 2021 and 25% higher than in 2019, when the previous record was set. Collections consist of a 2% tax on hotel, lodging, and meeting venues, as well as a 1% tax on prepared foods.
Hotel collections soared 37% compared to 2021 and there was an 11% increase on collections from restaurants, Visit Bentonville said in a news release.
The tax collections fund Bentonville’s advertising campaigns, capital projects with key city partners, and the operational costs of Visit Bentonville.
Kalene Griffith, CEO of Visit Bentonville, tied the increase in collections to investments in the city's quality of life. She said those investments haven't just benefited residents, they've made the city more attractive to visitors.
For example, Visit Bentonville in recent years secured $1.8 million in capital investments for sports and recreational improvements and developments, resulting in an annual average of 60 sporting events. Those events have a direct economic impact of more than $8 million. The bureau has also invested $1.4 million in Lawrence Plaza as a year-round attraction.
“We’re seeing the impact of our investments in the community through our tourism dollars,” Griffith said. “At the same time, we reinvest that money into making Bentonville even better.”
The city has received national notice for the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the FORMAT Festival, a three-day event launched last year that features an eclectic music lineup, artist-built venues and interactive art experiences. Travel writer Kathryn O’Shea-Evans, in a piece last month for The Wall Street Journal, said Bentonville is "becoming a new capital of cool."
“We’re so excited to see this continued growth in our tourism industry,” Alison Nation, Visit Bentonville's vice president of communications and marketing, said in the release. “Visit Bentonville is poised to continue its positive trajectory in driving tourism, enhancing the local economy and elevating the town’s overall appeal.”