Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism
In recognition of the positive economic, social, and cultural impact of the travel and tourism industry, Arkansas will celebrate May 7-15 as Tourism Week. Monday, May 9, is Arkansas Tourist Appreciation Day in honor of the travelers who actually make that impact happen.
In 2010, nearly 23 million visitors traveled in Arkansas, spending an estimated $5.5 billion, which generated $285 million in state taxes and $104 million in local taxes.
Across the state, communities are planning to salute Tourism Week in a variety of ways. Following is a list of places and activities planned:
- Bentonville: The Arkansas Welcome Center, located on U.S. 71 in Bella Vista, celebrates Saturday, May 7. In an effort to thank the tourists who make such a valuable contribution to both the local and state economies, a hot dog lunch will be served from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. A gift basket featuring donations from the local area will be presented to one lucky traveler. Come pick up your new 2011 Vacation Planning Kit. For more information, contact William Armacost, Bentonville Welcome Center manager, at 479-855-3111.
- Blytheville: The Arkansas Welcome Center in Blytheville holds its party on Thursday, May 12, from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m., in conjunction with the second anniversary of the new center’s opening. Hampson Archeological Museum State Park will provide a presentation on their park. Refreshments will be served. Everyone is invited to pick up a 2011 Vacation Planning Kit, Arkansas state pins, and litter bags. For more information, contact Diane James, Blytheville Welcome Center manager, at 870-762-2512.
- Corning: The Corning Welcome Center observes tourism week on multiple days, beginning Sunday, May 8, when mothers visiting the center receive a candy kiss rose (while supplies last). On May 9, Pumpkin Hollow will have an exhibit about their Fright Forrest and plans for autumn tours. An open house with cookies and soda is May 10. On May 11, the staff treats transportation drivers with gift bags that include key chains, notepads, pens, water, and crackers. An exhibit on Arkansas’s unusual named towns is May 12. For more information, contact Brenda Eddington, Corning Welcome Center manager, at (870) 857-6014.
- Harrison: The Harrison Welcome Center welcomes visitors with coffee and pastries on Wednesday, May 11, beginning at 8 a.m. A luncheon of sandwiches, hot dogs, chips, cookies, soft drinks, and water follows at 11 a.m. Mayor Crockett will read a proclamation declaring Tourism Day in Harrison, with city, county, and state officials in attendance to greet visitors. Local radio stations are going to broadcast live 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. Certificates for lodging, restaurants, and canoeing will be handed out during the week. All products are donated by local businesses from the Ozark Mountain Region. For more information, contact Norma Sims, Harrison Welcome Center manager, at 870-741-3343.
Helena-West Helena: The Helena-West Helena Welcome Center
celebrates on Tuesday, May 10, from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. with a “Business During Hours” for tourists, residents, and chamber members. A light lunch will be served. Rangers from Delta Heritage Trail State Park, Mississippi River State Park, Village Creek State Park, and Parkin Archeological State Park will be on hand to help visitors plan activities close to home. W. D. Honnoll, president of the Arkansas Civil War Heritage Trails Foundation of Jonesboro and some of the chapter’s members, will hand out Civil War Sesquicentennial information. Local photographers Susan Winston, Patty Smith, and Jan Woodie are going to exhibit their collection of Arkansas nature photographs.
The center is sponsoring the “Picture Yourself Here” photo contest. Visitors are welcome to submit a 4”x6” shot of their favorite spot in Arkansas: wildlife, flowers; cities or towns; festivals or events; landscape or water scenes. Only one entry per person is allowed. Each photo should be labeled with name, address, and phone number on the back and entries should be mailed or dropped off at the welcome center by May 6. Prizes will be awarded for the top three photographs. For more information, contact Pam Garofas, Helena-West Helena Welcome Center manager, Arkansas Welcome Center, 1506 MLK Dr., Helena, AR 72342. Phone 870-338-7602.
Lake Village: The Lake Village Welcome Center hosts a week-long event. On Monday, May 9, representatives from Lakeport Plantation are on hand from from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. A demonstration by staff from Felsenthal Wildlife Management Area is Tuesday, May 10, from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. Wednesday brings “A Taste of Chicot, featuring samples from area restaurants. The Sisters from Twinkletown will provide musical entertainment. On Thursday, May 12, Lake Village Mayor Jo Anne Bush, State Parks, Recreation, & Travel Commissioner Cindy Smith, and Lake Village Chamber of Commerce Director Connee Luttrell comprise a welcoming committee for tourists stopping at the center. Monday through Friday soft drinks and bottled water will be given out, along with rice samples, rice recipes, stickers and lapel pins.
For more information, contact Martin Reese, Lake Village Welcome Center manager, at 870-265-5832.
- Little Rock: The Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism holds an 11 a.m. Travel Rally May 10 on the front steps of the Arkansas State Capitol. Arkansas Tourism Director Joe David Rice will welcome those in attendance, followed by a performance by Miss Arkansas 2010 Alyse Eady. Governor Mike Beebe has been invited to read an official proclamation declaring May 7-15 as Tourism Week in Arkansas recognizing the importance of the travel and tourism industry to the state.
Activities at the Mammoth Spring Welcome Center for Tourism Week will be held Saturday, May 14, with free helium balloons, live bluegrass music, cake and beverages, tours of the 1886 Frisco Depot Museum. There will also be a homemade ice cream vendor on site. Door prizes and a grand prize will be given out. For more information, contact Adam Davis, Mammoth Spring Welcome Center manager, at 870-625-7382.
- Siloam Springs: The Siloam Springs Welcome Center will be celebrating Tourism Week all week with Little Debbie snacks, coffee, and Allen’s shoestring potatoes. On Friday, they will serve hot dogs, potato salad, baked beans, and donuts from Daylight Donuts. For more information, contact Betty Ross, Siloam Springs Welcome Center manager at 479-524-4445.
Texarkana: The Texarkana Welcome Center, located on Interstate 30 East, celebrates National Tourism Week and Tourist Appreciation Day on Monday, May 9. Activities include dulcimer music, local and state exhibits and displays, and refreshments. For more information, contact Paula Warren, Texarkana Welcome Center manager at 870-772-4301.
The Red River Welcome Center, located in Texarkana on U.S. 71 North, will have homemade baked goods (as supplies last) and coffee. Goody bags including key chains, pens, notebooks and other items will be given out periodically throughout the week. Interpreters from Millwood and Historic State Parks present programs highlighting activities and programs at each park on Tuesday, May 10, from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. For more information, contact LaJeana Jackson, Red River Welcome Center manager at 870-772-7511.
- Van Buren/Fort Smith: The Arkansas Welcome Center at Van Buren/Fort Smith will be celebrating throughout Tourism Week by treating tourists with Arkansas-made products. On Thursday, May 12, at 11:00 a.m., the mayors of Van Buren and Fort Smith will read an official proclamation announcing the week as Tourism Week. The Fort Smith and Van Buren Advertising & Promotion Commissions will capture a lucky tourist, make them an honorary Deputy Marshal, and present them with a basket containing gift certificates and products made in the area. For more information, contact Barbara Wilson, Van Buren/Fort Smith Welcome Center manager, at 479-474-9512.
- West Memphis: The Arkansas Welcome Center located on Interstate 40 in West Memphis will celebrate on Wednesday, May 11, from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. with hot dogs, drinks, and chips. Door prizes will be given away every half hour. Fire Pup has been invited to give out fire safety information and coloring books to children. Several local dignitaries have also been invited. For more information, contact Calanda Young, West Memphis Welcome Center manager at 870-735-3637.
For general information on Tourism Week, contact Kristine Puckett, Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, 1 Capitol Mall, Little Rock, AR 72201. 501-682-5240.