Food and lodging tax collections in Van Buren and Fort Smith are up year-to-date 6.35% and 5.8%, respectively. However, employment in the region’s tourism industry remains flat.
August hospitality tax collections in Van Buren were $35,569, up 6.5% over August 2011. The August increase follows a July in which collections were up 6.1%.
For the first eight months of 2012, tourism tax collections in Van Buren totaled $323,419, up 6.35% compared to the $304,089 in the 2011 period. The city collects a 1% tax on lodging and a 1% prepared food tax.
“We had several special events in the area during the month of August, one being the Babe Ruth World Series, that helped boost revenue for the month. I continue to expect a slight improvement in revenue compared to 2011 for the remainder of the year,” explained Maryl Koeth, executive director of the Van Buren Advertising & Promotion Commission.
Hospitality tax collections in Van Buren during 2011 totaled $429,561, up 2.34% compared to 2010. The 2011 collections end a two-year skid in Van Buren.
“So far, every month has been up from last year. June saw the smallest increase with just under 1% and February saw the biggest with 15.5%. Not bad, not bad at all,” Koeth said.
August hospitality collections in Fort Smith totaled $59,089, down 1.1% compared to August 2011. In July, the city’s hospitality tax collection was up more than 4% compared to July 2011. The city collects a 3% tax on lodging.
“Our August research shows that Fort Smith actually saw some increase in lodging occupancy city wide, but some discounting pushed average daily rate (ADR) slightly lower,” said Claude Legris, executive director of the Fort Smith Convention & Visitors Bureau. “For travel, August is typically a slower month due to the start of the school year which means fewer people available for part time tourism employment as well as fewer folks traveling.”
For the first eight months of 2012, Fort Smith hospitality tax collections totaled $510,381, up 5.8% compared to $482,175 in the same 2011 period.
Hospitality tax collections in Fort Smith totaled $708,141 during 2011, up 4.3% compared to the 2010 period. It was the second consecutive year for a hospitality tax collection gain in Fort Smith.
TOURISM EMPLOYMENT, STATE COLLECTIONS
Employment in the Fort Smith region’s tourism industry was 8,700 during August, unchanged compared to July and August 2011, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The sector reached an employment high of 9,800 in August 2008.
Average monthly employment in the sector is on a two-year decline. During 2007, 2008 and 2009, the average monthly employment was 9,300. That fell to 8,700 during 2010 and 8,500 during 2011.
July collections of Arkansas’ 2% tourism tax was $1.277 million, down 1.73% compared to July 2011. July marked the second consecutive month of declines in the collection. The collections were up each month between January and May.
For the first seven months of 2012, the 2% statewide tourism tax has generated $7.447 million, up 4.64% compared to the 2011 period. Collection of the statewide tax was $12.025 million during 2011, up 4.6% compared to $11.492 million during 2010.
Arkansas’ tourism sector (leisure & hospitality) employed 103,700 during August, up from the 103,200 during July and well ahead of the 99,300 during August 2011. The sector reached an employment high of 104,900 in April 2012.