Guest editorial by Jim Dailey, Arkansas Tourism Director

Arkansas is home to popular tourist sites like the Clinton Presidential Center, Crystal Bridges Museum of America Art, Hot Springs National Park, the Buffalo National River and the Boyhood Home of Johnny Cash. Many of us drive by these attractions every day on our way to work or school. We probably don’t think about how these locations support our local communities. Yet, these destinations help define our communities, provide our families with jobs and have given us a lifetime of memories.

At the national level, travel is critical to the U.S. economy and American jobs. As a leader in workforce development and career advancement, travel creates and supports 15.7 million jobs across the U.S., making it the seventh-largest private sector employer. In 2018, traveler spending generated $171 billion in total tax revenue, including $78.6 billion in state and local revenues across the U.S., according to the U.S. Travel Association. That $78.6 billion can pay for a host of critical resources: it’s more than enough to pay all state and local police and firefighters, or the more than one million public high school teachers, research indicates.

Travel improves Arkansas in ways that have a wide-reaching impact on local residents. The tourism industry supports jobs and economic development in the state, and it also has an impact that we do not always see: travel can strengthen families, foster hometown pride and build bridges that connect us with one another.

Think back to your first job. Maybe you worked in customer service for the tourism or hospitality industries, or maybe your kids work in those fields now. For many – one-third of Americans to be exact – travel is the front door to a promising career. Americans whose first job was in travel have an average career salary of $81,900, and two in 5 of those whose first job was in travel are now earning more than $100,000, according to the U.S. Travel Association.

Those are only a few reasons why it’s so important to keep welcoming visitors to The Natural State — and why our industry is promoting the message of “Travel Matters” during National Travel and Tourism Week May 5-11. We encourage you to join us in this national event and celebrate all that travel does for Arkansas and for our country as a whole.
Here are a few ways to get involved:

  • Get social and engage with the #nttw19 hashtag on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
  • Share with friends and family how travel matters in your community.
  • Contact your member of Congress and tell them why travel is important to Arkansas.

This year’s National Travel and Tourism Week is more than just another campaign. It’s a movement that positions the travel industry as a primary driver in the U.S. economy and as an important part of our daily lives in Arkansas.

For more information: Leah DiPietro, 501-682-7606.

About Arkansas Tourism 

Arkansas Tourism, a division of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, strives to expand the economic impact of travel and tourism in the state and enhance the quality of life for all Arkansans. The division manages 14 Arkansas Welcome Centers and employs more than 60 staff members across The Natural State. For more information, visit www.arkansas.com.