The flat-to-downward trend continued into July for hospitality tax collections in Fort Smith and Van Buren, although sector employment was up in July compared to July 2012.
Collections in Van Buren during the first seven months of 2013 total $251,764, down 0.02% from the $251,824 collected during the same period of 2012.
July collections were $36,380, down 2.6% from the $37,339 in July 2012. The city collects a 1% tax on lodging and a 1% prepared food tax.
“July numbers were significantly off from July of last year. Restaurant numbers are off by about 1% from last year and deli and convenience store prepared food sales are off by 4%,” said Maryl Koeth, executive director of the Van Buren Advertising & Promotion Commission.
“People are still traveling, but are eating out less and not spending as much at fuel stops on food items. This has been the trend for most of 2013 and I see no indication that this spending pattern will change for the remainder of the year. I think the fall travel season will see a slight increase in the number of vacationers, but again their spending will be on the light side,” Koeth explained.
During 2012, Van Buren hospitality tax collections totaled $425,554, up 5.2% compared to the 2011 collections. 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.
Collections in Fort Smith for the first seven months of 2013 totals $439,845, down 3.1% compared to the same period in 2012. The year-to-date decline has improved through the year. The first quarter collections were down more than 6% compared to the 2012 quarter.
July collections were $69,254, up 1.2% compared to July 2012. The city collects a 3% tax on lodging.
Claude Legris, executive director of the Fort Smith Convention & Visitors Bureau, said it was the best month of collections for the year. The July revenue was supported by two large Jehovah’s Witnesses conferences, the AME 12th District Youth Conference and the Arkansas Sheriff’s Association annual convention.
During 2012, Fort Smith hospitality tax collections totaled $746,182, up 5.37% compared to the 2011 period.
TOURISM EMPLOYMENT, ARKANSAS COLLECTIONS
Employment in the region’s tourism industry was 9,500 during July, down from 9,600 in June and above the 9,100 in July 2012. The sector reached an employment high of 9,800 in August 2008.
Average monthly employment in the Fort Smith metro tourism sector ended a two year decline in 2012. During 2007, 2008 and 2009, the average monthly employment was 9,300. That fell to 8,700 during 2010, 8,500 during 2011, but rose to 9,000 during 2012. The sector reached an employment high of 9,800 in November 2008.
Arkansas’ tourism sector (leisure & hospitality) employed 101,500 during July, down from revised 102,000 during June, and below the 102,100 during July 2012. At a revised 103,700, January 2013 marked a new employ
Arkansas’ 2% tourism tax receipts totaled $6.287 million for the first half of 2013, up 1.9% compared to the $6.169 million during the same period of 2012.
Arkansas’ 2% tourism tax receipts totaled $12.405 million during 2012, up 3.16% compared to the $12.025 million during 2011. The gains marked the third consecutive year of improving tourism tax revenue and was a record total for the tax.