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October 2014 Arkansas State Parks, Recreation and Travel Commission Summary

The following is a synopsis of the Arkansas State Parks, Recreation and Travel Commission meeting held at the Days Inn and Suites in Pocahontas on Oct. 16, 2014. For questions regarding this report, please contact Gloria Robins, executive assistant, at 501-682-7614. The next Commission meeting will be held Nov. 20, 2014, at Mount Magazine State Park in Paris.

Executive Director’s Report

Executive Director Richard W. Davies gave Commissioners an overview of the budget hearings held on Oct. 15.

Tourism Division

The Research & Information Services Section processed 8,729 requests for travel information during September 2014, an increase of 26.1% from September 2013. The calendar year 2014 inquiry total is 135,452, up 36.3% from 2013. For more information, contact Jennifer Neubauer at 501-324-1522.

Assistant Tourism Director Marla Crider announced that Leah DiPietro was chosen as the department’s new Communications Manager and will begin on Oct. 27. The 2015 Arkansas Tour Guide is in the final editing stages. Over 60 communities throughout Arkansas are participating in the 2014 Arkansas Trail of Holiday Lights.

Nominations for 2015 Henry Awards are now open. The deadline is Oct. 31. The Arkansas Retirement Symposium is being held Oct. 30 at the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offices in Little Rock. The workshop assists communities on ways to attract retirees and the economic benefits of the age group. Contact Kristine Puckett at 501-682-1926.

Group Travel comparison figures for inquiries generated through September 2014 indicate 1972 leads versus 821 leads generated in September 2013, an increase of 140%. In September 2014, Group Travel received 38 new inquiries for industry partners. These leads were generated from 23 website requests, eight magazine requests, and seven phone inquiries. For details, contact Tracy Morales at 501-682-1219.

Cranford Johnson Robinson and Woods presented the 2015 Spring/Summer Print Creative Revisions. The Commission approved the recommendations. New videos in the “Meet the Locals” series were also shown and approved by the Commissioners. The videos featured Diamond Bear Brewery in North Little Rock and Pumpkin Hollow near Piggott.

Aristotle presented the budget for the second half of Fiscal Year 2014 (January 1-June 30, 2015). Commissioners approved the budget. Aristotle staff reported traffic to increased 5.7% in September compared to September 2013. There were 255,893 total tablet/mobile device visits (50% of total traffic) to both the main website and the mobile website in September versus 210,878 visits in September 2013.

Parks Summary

Arkansas State Parks (ASP) renewed the grant partnership program with the Arkansas Broadcaster’s Association for the coming year. The partnership program promotes ASP through TV and radio advertising. The partnership program promotes the diverse facilities, programs and activities of the state park system, inspiring Arkansas pride in the state park system encouraging Arkansans to travel in state and visit other Arkansas travel destinations. For additional information contact Joan Ellison at 501-682-2873.

ASP announced the FY 2014 Arkansas State Parks awards recently at the annual superintendent’s business meeting held at Mount Magazine State Park over September 23-25, 2014. The FY 2014 awards honor the Overall Park of the Year, five region winners, and the Best of the Best category awards. For additional information contact Greg Butts at 501-682-7743.

 Park of the Year  
 Park of the Year, Region 1   Lake Dardanelle State Park
 Park of the Year, Region 2  Bull Shoals-White River State Park / Overall Winner
 Park of the Year, Region 3  Lake Poinsett State Park
 Park of the Year, Region 4  Historic Washington State Park
 Park of the Year, Region 5  DeGray Lake Resort State Park
 Best of the Best by category  
 Interpretive Program  Parkin Archeological State Park
 Outstanding Hospitality  Ozark Folk Center State Park
 Outstanding Park Maintenance  DeGray Lake Resort State Park
 Outstanding Special Event  “25th Annual Mountain Bike Championship Race” – Devil’s Den State Park
 Resource Management  Hobbs State Park – Conservation Area
 Volunteer Program  Hobbs State Park – Conservation Area

Randy Roberson reported that ASP has $51.6 million in capital improvements or major renovations underway or completed. For additional information contact Randy Roberson at 501-682-1633.