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SPRTC Summary for January 2014

State Parks, Recreation and Travel Commission Summary


The following is a synopsis of the Arkansas State Parks, Recreation and Travel Commission meeting held at UAMS East in Helena-West Helena on Jan. 16, 2014. For questions regarding this report, please contact Gloria Robins, executive assistant, at 501-682-7614. The next Commission meeting will be held Feb. 20, 2014, in Hot Springs.


Galen Lawrence, John Faulkner and David Johnson made a presentation to Commissioners on plans for the redevelopment of the city of Wilson. The long-term plan includes restoration of many of the town’s Tudor style buildings, constructing small rental cabins for lodging and making the town a tourism destination. Commissioners approved a proposal to proceed on a new facility for the Hampson Archeological Museum State Park collection, and requested that a specific relocation plan be presented to the SPRTC at a later time for final approval.

Dr. Ruth Hawkins gave the Commission an update on the Historic Dyess Colony: Boyhood Home of Johnny Cash project. The grand opening is scheduled to coincide with the 4th annual Johnny Cash Music Festival in August.



The 2014 Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism will be held in Rogers on March 9-11. Online registration is now open. Confirmed speakers include Andrew McCarthy, Jim Knight and Christopher Crane. Contact Marla Crider at 501-682-1120.

The Research & Information Services section processed 26,499 requests for travel information during November 2013, an increase of 332.8% from November 2012. In December 2013, the section received a total of 5,859 requests, a 12.48% increase from December 2012. The calendar year 2013 inquiry total was 144,237, an increase of 18.1% over 2012. November 2013 Welcome Center visitation was 62,871, down 5.1% over last November. December visitation totaled 49,964, a decrease of 4.7% from last year. January-December 2013 visitation was 835,320, down 4.9% over 2012. Contact Joanne Hinson at 501-324-1520.

The Song of Arkansas contest is now underway. Entries will be accepted through Jan. 24. Nearly 5000 people entered the Choose Your Escape contest. New videos featuring museums throughout The Natural State have been added to the Arkansas Tourism YouTube channel. Contact Kat Robinson at 501-682-7606.

Tourism Development submitted the media release announcing Henry Award finalists to the Communications Section for distribution in December. The release was posted to the Arkansas Media Room and the Arkansas Industry Insider. The finalists for the Henry Awards have been notified by mail. The Regional Tourist Association Rules and Regulations proposed changes were presented to the Arkansas Legislative Council’s Administrative Rules & Regulations Committee on December 11. Following the meeting, the Rules & Regulations were filed with the Secretary of State’s office and the Arkansas State Library. The changes went into effect in January. Contact Kristine Puckett at 501-682-1926.

Group Travel comparison figures for inquiries generated through November 2013 YTD indicate 1489 leads as opposed to 1573 leads from November the previous year. Comparison figures for December 2013 year-to-date reflect 1716 leads versus 1592 for December 2012. Group Travel received 227 new inquiries in December 2013 generated from Travel South International, Group Travel Family and The section received 124 new leads more in 2013 than 2012. Contact Tracy Morales at 501-682-1219.

Aristotle reported traffic to increased 6% in December compared to December 2012. There were 140,438 total tablet/mobile device visits to the website last month, compared to 93,067 visits during December 2012. Arkansas remains at a rank of # 3 in the Hitwise custom category “All 50 State Tourism Sites” behind Alaska and Hawaii.

Cranford Johnson Robinson and Woods presented the 2014 Spring/Summer Online Campaign recommendations. The Commission approved the recommendations.


The State Parks, Recreation and Travel Commission approved an $8.9 million FY 15 grant request to the Arkansas Natural & Resources Council (ANCRC) for state parks renovation and Capital Improvement projects. The application will be submitted to ANCRC by March 3, 2014. For additional information contact Randy Roberson at 501-682-1633.

Arkansas State Parks (ASP) participated in America’s State Parks’ nationwide invitation to the public to enjoy First Day Hikes offering the opportunity to begin the New Year connecting with the outdoors by taking a healthy hike on January 1. ASP had 29 parks participate in t he event with 536 hikers hiking 1,122 miles of guided hikes, along with many hikers that hiked on their own. It was a great opportunity to create healthy habits, make memories and launch the season for the upcoming year. For additional information contact Kelly Farrell at 501-682-2187.

Jon Brown reported damage from the December 5, 2013, storms affected three parks to include: Mount Nebo, Mount Magazine and Queen Wilhelmina state parks. Mount Nebo and Mount Magazine parks are open for business and the repairs and cleanup are ongoing, however some trails remain closed. The four trails closed at Mount Magazine State Park include north side of Signal Hill, the trail to Cove Lake, Greenfield and Mossback with trails at Mount Nebo and Queen Wilhelmina open. Queen Wilhelmina State Park Lodge is currently closed due to a major renovation with all other facilities, including campground and trails, open. Updates will be posted on For additional information contact Jon Brown at 501-682-7639.