Arkansas Industry Insider Newsletter

Trail of Holiday Lights Campaign Lights Up

Sixty-six towns across the state are participating in this year’s Trail of Holiday Lights campaign. The celebration, which begins Thanksgiving week and lasts through Christmas, includes official lighting ceremonies, parades, pageants, music and more. The objective is to build tourism business throughout the holidays.

“We invite visitors to visit the displays in their own areas and also experience what other towns around the state have to offer,” said Arkansas Tourism Director Joe David Rice.

Participants are encouraged to go to the Arkansas Trail of Holiday Lights Facebook fan page to share photos and offer insider tips on their town’s activities. It’s a great way to spread the holiday cheer and create lasting memories.

The trail has continued to grow every year since it began in 1996. It has been selected as a Top 100 Event for 2011 by the American Bus Association.

Free copies of the Trail of Holiday Lights brochure with specific information about displays all over the state are available at all Bank of America locations, Best Western Hotels, Shell Superstops and Arkansas Welcome Centers. It’s also available for

Industry Insiders Website Gets New Look

Been to the Industry Insider website lately? Things look a little different. It's been redesigned to make it even easier to utilize the Department's free tools to help businesses, attractions and destinations promote themselves.

Upload your Hot Deals and Packages so travelers will know your specials. Lodging facilities can learn about COVER to aid evacuees in a crisis. Find out what trade shows are coming up, who’s going and if you should be there. Get training for your front-line workers so they can better assist your customers.

The changes are part of an overall redesign of, the state travel and tourism website. Check out industry-specific news at

Make an Impression on Your Guests With Random Acts of Hospitality

The Natural State has always been known for friendly people and Southern hospitality. With the Welcome to Arkansas program, we’ve taken what comes naturally and stepped it up a notch to provide our visitors with superior customer service. Now, we’re proposing that you go further than you’ve ever gone before, and we want to hear about it!

What are you doing to show extraordinary customer service? If you have ideas for displaying “Random Acts of Hospitality,” please share them with us on the Arkansas Hospitality Association Facebook page. We’ll be sending out ideas in the next few weeks, so log onto Facebook and “like” our page, because you don’t want to miss them. This will be a great venue for you to promote what your business is doing, as well as acknowledge exemplary performance among your employees.

Agriculture + Tourism Partnerships = Big Business

In partnership with the Arkansas Agriculture Department and Arkansas Farm Bureau, the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism recently released a new agritourism brochure. “Arkansas Grown: Good Times” guides travelers on a fact-filled agricultural tour of The Natural State. The objective is to move visitors around the state and build tourism in rural areas.

“Agritourism is growing in popularity and provides a wonderful means for getting our visitors off the main roads so they can experience the treasures of rural Arkansas,” said Richard Davies, executive director of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.

Combining the state’s rich agriculture with fun things to see and do, agritourism is a travel trend that provides an additional source of income for farmers and rural communities.

“This booklet does a great job of highlighting two of the state’s leading industries, agriculture and tourism, which contribute almost $23 billion yearly to the state’s economy,” said Richard Bell, Arkansas’s secretary of agriculture.

The 50-page publication, which includes maps, crop identifiers, fun facts and over 90 photographs, is available at state Welcome Centers.

“We are seeing great interest from the agri-curious, those who want to know more about food production: crops and livestock raised in Arkansas and how our farmers and ranchers provide a safe and healthy food supply,” said Randy Veach, president of Arkansas Farm Bureau, himself a cotton, soybean and rice farmer from Manila. “We hope this helps more people experience the role of Arkansas’s farmers and ranchers.”

Mid-America Science Museum Gets Capital Grant

Mid-America Science Museum (MASM) has been awarded a $7.8 million capital grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation to renovate its building and exhibits.

“We are thrilled for the museum and for the community of Hot Springs,” said Lance Garner, MASM Board of Trustees chairman. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our museum to reach its fullest potential.”

With the expansion, the museum will be able to strengthen its appeal to visiting children, while offering expanded learning opportunities for teachers and surrounding school systems as well.

The museum plans to renovate every major exhibit hall, resulting in a state-of-the-art facility for people of all ages.

Long-time Tourism Advocate Dale Christy Retires

Dale Christy, long-time director of the Northwest Arkansas Tourism Association, was recognized recently for his many years of service with a retirement lunch at the Embassy Suites in Rogers. 

“Dale was Mr. Tourism when tourism wasn’t cool,” said Ed Clifford Bentonville/Bella Vista Chamber of Commerce CEO. 

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