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Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism to test COVER, the Communication of Vacancies Emergency Response Plan, March 17-27

The Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism will begin testing COVER -“Communication of Vacancies Emergency Response” system on March 17. COVER is activated when an emergency forces evacuation from surrounding areas into Arkansas.

In addition to using COVER during an emergency, the system will be tested during busy holidays. Travelers can use the system to find lodging availability information for last minute travel plans. The first test of COVER will take place during Spring Break beginning on March 17, 2011 at 9:00 a.m., ending on March 27 at 5:00 p.m.

COVER website links are and

Lodging facilities needing assistance with COVER should contact

To watch an informative video about this new website, go to

Information about COVER:

While coastal areas work diligently to help evacuees exit affected areas, states like Arkansas open their doors to many of those looking for lodging. During Hurricane Katrina, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated 1.1 million people over the age of 16 were forced to evacuate their homes. Throughout the evacuation, most of those driving through Arkansas were unfamiliar with secondary roads and stayed on major highways in search of overnight accommodations. Because of this, many evacuees drove past available rooms. This caused a huge problem—hotels located on major thoroughfares had no vacancies while other lodging properties near secondary routes remained open with ample availability.

To help prevent similar problems in the future, the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism developed a website to assist travelers. In the event of another mass evacuation, COVER will be activated. Lodging managers will begin entering their number of available rooms onto the website. Travelers will be able to enter their email address or cell phone number to receive messages along their journey with lodging updates. Also, those that follow Twitter can follow #ARKCOVER for updates during a crisis. In time of emergency, the media in the affected area will be notified about the activation of COVER. A link to the COVER main page will appear on Once on the road, travelers with smart phones may access COVER information in a mobile format at

For more information, contact Dena Woerner at 501-425-6840 or


Submitted by the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism
One Capitol Mall, Little Rock, AR 72201, 501-682-7606
May be used without permission. Credit line is appreciated:
"Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism"