Council’s Purpose: Double Arkansas Tourism {Dollars} in 10 Years | Arkansas Enterprise Information


We had been unable to ship the article.

The Pure State Advisory Council is narrowing concepts to develop out of doors recreation choices in 4 zones round parks in several areas of the state, Bryan Sanders, the council’s chairman, stated throughout a Rotary Membership of Little Rock presentation Tuesday. 

Three different members of the Pure State Advisory Council — Suzanne Grobmyer, chief of workers of the Arkansas Division of Parks, Heritage & Tourism; Tom Walton, co-founder of the Runway Group of Bentonville and a grandson of Walmart Inc. founder Sam Walton; and Mindy West, chief monetary officer at publicly traded Murphy USA Inc. of El Dorado — joined Sanders for a dialogue on out of doors recreation in Arkansas.

Sanders’ spouse, Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, named the primary gentleman to steer the 17-member council in January. The council will coordinate with the Arkansas Division of Commerce to advertise the state’s out of doors recreation business and the financial affect of outside infrastructure funding. 

“She [Sarah Huckabee Sanders] was uninterested in Arkansas competing on the backside in every thing, and definitely in locations we need to be competing on the prime,” Bryan Sanders stated. “I began occupied with that and one of many areas I do know we are able to compete on the prime is out of doors recreation, notably on this area of the nation.”

He stated the purpose is to double the $3.5 billion that tourism contributes to the state’s financial system within the subsequent decade. 

“I believe we are able to crush our neighboring states as a vacation spot for out of doors recreation,” Bryan Sanders stated. “Tourism is the quantity two business behind agriculture. Nothing in opposition to the agriculture business, however I see tourism actually main because the primary business within the state.”

The advisory council has recognized 4 state parks to bolster present infrastructure to draw extra out of doors fanatics who get pleasure from actions like biking or climbing, he stated. These embrace Queen Wilhelmina State Park in western Arkansas, the place the council is exploring making a downhill biking vacation spot “that will rival any carry entry biking resort on this planet,” Bryan Sanders stated. 

He stated Petit Jean State Park in Conway County might develop into an “elite climbing vacation spot.” The council can also be exploring an “out of doors recreation hall” round Little Rock that will join trails from the downtown space to Pinnacle Mountain, Maumelle and the Ouachita Mountains, he stated.

And within the Arkansas Delta, the council envisions mountain biking trails at Mississippi River State Park close to Helena-West Helena and Crowley’s Ridge State Park close to Paragould, he stated. 

“These are 4 areas we’re zeroing in on actually as pilot initiatives however nice alternatives for private-public partnerships,” Bryan Sanders stated. “We are able to actually transfer the needle and additional set up Arkansas as a premier out of doors recreation vacation spot.” 

Arkansas state parks obtain about 10 million guests yearly, half from out of state, he stated. A significant focus is bettering the hospitality in these parks, resembling making it simpler for individuals to entry items and companies in parks and establishing earmarked funding for higher path upkeep, he stated. 

Walton, who can also be chairman of the Walton Household Basis Dwelling Area Program, stated the buildout of biking infrastructure in northwest Arkansas has been a key driver for progress within the area. 

“My aunt wouldn’t be excited to listen to this, however I hardly ever hear individuals say, ‘I transfer to Bentonville due to the artwork museum,” Walton stated, referencing Crystal Bridges Museum of American Artwork, based by Alice Walton. “They are saying the entire time, ‘I transfer to Bentonville as a result of I wish to reside in an space that has superb out of doors recreation alternatives and infrastructure.’”

Walton stated a current financial affect examine discovered that biking contributed $159 million in 2022 to the northwest Arkansas financial system, $100 million of which was generated from cycling-related companies whereas $59 million got here from cycling-related tourism. Collectively that generated greater than 1,300 jobs and about $10 million in state and native taxes. 

“That’s actual cash,” Walton stated. “The query for us is how can we take that and develop it throughout the state.” 

Walton stated he believes cycling-related tourism can develop throughout Arkansas. He additionally stated extra have to be finished to assist rural communities plan trails and procure native, state or nationwide grants to construct them.  

“Chances are you’ll not have mountains or undulated terrain, however the quickest rising phase in biking is gravel,” Walton stated. “Now we have 176,000 gravel grime roads in Arkansas. It’s superb potential with this untapped useful resource that’s already there. It’s like the journey unfolds as you go.” 

West, the Murphy USA CFO, stated constructing the out of doors financial system is essential for recruiting workforce expertise. She mentioned efforts to create the Murphy Arts District in El Dorado, which incorporates indoor and out of doors theater venues, a youngsters’s museum and artwork museum. Because the mission launched in fall 2017, it’s created 600 jobs within the space, she stated. 

“It has made a distinction, however it could not have occurred with out some actually considerate and deliberate planning and the collaboration of each private and non-private stakeholders all aligned on a standard purpose,” West stated. 

“A lesson in that’s this: If you will get Arkansans galvanized round a problem that resonates with them and so they care about, they will get issues finished and make modifications,” she stated.

Bryan Sanders stated he sees bolstering Arkansas’ out of doors recreation business as a option to convey unity to the state. He stated Arkansas is well-positioned to draw extra vacationers from the area. He stated some estimates point out there are a minimum of 60 million individuals who reside inside a day’s drive of the state, double that of Utah or Colorado. 

“One of many nice issues about this problem is it’s a nonpartisan problem,” he stated. “You ask the query, ‘Do you assist reforms to enhance the expertise of state parks, enhance entry to out of doors recreation?’ It’s like 90% assist. Nobody is in opposition to it.”  

Comments are closed.