There was no slow down in tourism and business travel in the Fort Smith and Van Buren areas during the late fall, with Fort Smith tourism tax collections on a pace to double the budgeted 2012 growth rate of 3%.
November hospitality tax collections in Van Buren were $32,383, up 6% over November 2011. For the first 11 months of 2012, tourism tax collections in Van Buren totaled $426,437, up 5.9% compared to the $402,713 in the 2011 period. The city collects a 1% tax on lodging and a 1% prepared food tax.
“2012 has seen a consistent growth each month compared to the same months in 2011. Van Buren's hospitality businesses have seen the same growth in revenue and jobs that have been reported for the national and state hospitality sectors,” explained Maryl Koeth, executive director of the Van Buren Advertising & Promotion Commission.
Figures from STR, the closely watched lodging industry research company, reported that fourth quarter hotel occupancy in the U.S. rose 2.4%, and the average daily rate rose 4%
“The industry finished 2012 on a good note in the fourth quarter,” Bobby Bowers, senior VP of operations at STR, said in this report. “RevPAR gained 6.5 percent—driven primarily by a 4.2 percent ADR growth. We expect this pattern will continue in 2013, as demand growth slows somewhat and ADR traction holds.”
Hospitality tax collections in Van Buren during 2011 totaled $429,561, up 2.34% compared to 2010. The 2011 collections ended a two-year skid in Van Buren.
November hospitality collections in Fort Smith totaled $55,987, down 1.2% compared to November 2011. The November collections followed an increase of 11.3% in October. The city collects a 3% tax on lodging.
For the first 11 months of 2012, Fort Smith hospitality tax collections totaled $700,815, up 6.1% compared to $660,281 in the same 2011 period.
“November showed a slight decrease overall due to a drop in average daily rate but we still show a solid overall increase of just over six percent through 11 months of the year, and initial indications show that the Fort Smith lodging market should remain steady for December. We budgeted for a three percent overall increase for 2012 in tax collections and should close the year up almost twice that amount,” said Claude Legris, executive director of the Fort Smith Convention & Visitors Bureau.
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 region’s tourism industry was 8,300 during November, unchanged from November 2011, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. December 2012 employment fell to 8,100, but was ahead of the 8,000 in December 2011.
Despite the increase in collections, average monthly employment in the Fort Smith metro tourism sector is on a three-year decline. During 2007, 2008 and 2009, the average monthly employment was 9,300. That fell to 8,700 during 2010, 8,500 during 2011 and an estimated 8,400 during 2012. The sector reached an employment high of 9,800 in November 2008.
November collections of Arkansas’ 2% tourism tax was $856,892, a slight gain over the $830,804 in November 2011.
For the first 11 months of 2012, the 2% statewide tourism tax has generated $11.624 million, up 2.6% 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 102,800 during December, down from the 103,800 during November and ahead of the 99,200 during December 2011. The sector reached a record 104,900 jobs during April.