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Touring the Fourth

October 9, 2015
Editorials

I spend several days each week in Washington, D.C., working in our nation’s capitol. During the October work period, I will be home traveling the Fourth Congressional District and highlighting some of Arkansas’ top tourist destinations.

While some may consider it odd to travel my own congressional district to highlight tourist destinations, figures from the state of Arkansas show a large number of tourism trips in the state originate from within Arkansas. In 2013, state residents made up 28 percent of leisure trips in Arkansas, according to the state Department of Parks and Tourism. The second largest number of visits came from Texas at 12 percent, followed by Missouri at seven percent, Oklahoma at five percent, and Louisiana and Tennessee at three percent each.

These trips make a huge impact on Arkansas. The U.S. Travel Association studied the economic impact of tourism in the Natural State and the figures are staggering. More than $6 billion was spent on travel and tourism in Arkansas in 2013, according to the association, while annual payroll in the travel and tourism industry stood at $1.1 billion and supported 61,152 jobs. The figure represents a full 6.5 percent of the state’s total non-farm employment, the U.S. Travel Association said. It went on to say for every $1 million spent by travelers in Arkansas, 9.7 jobs were created.

Not only does tourism create jobs in Arkansas, it provides us with paved roads, police officers on the beat, teachers educating our children, and firefighters on the job. The U.S. Travel Association said the taxes generated by tourism was $868.8 million in 2013. The Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism said 2014 tax collections were up 7.04 percent from 2013 to 2014, the largest year over year increase since 2000.

With tourism playing such a large role in our local economy, I look forward to getting out, exploring, and highlighting what so many people are discovering in Arkansas.

During my travels, I will visit several sites across the Fourth Congressional District. I will begin “Touring the Fourth” on Tuesday, October 13, with a visit to the Old Historic Washington State Park. From there, I will visit my hometown tourist attraction – Hot Springs National Park – before continuing on to Mt. Magazine State Park, the Buffalo River Outdoor Travel Center, Hawksbill Crag, Queen Wilhelmina State Park, and Crater of Diamonds State Park.

I hope to see you during my travels from October 13 to October 19. If we don’t see each other on the road, be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to see where I have been and hopefully you will find your next travel destination not too far from home.