By proclamation of Governor Asa Hutchinson, and in recognition of the positive economic, social, and cultural impact of the travel and tourism industry, Arkansas will celebrate May 7-13 as Tourism Week. In 2016, visitors who traveled in Arkansas spent an estimated $7.7 billion, which generated $538 million in state and local taxes, and supported more than 100,000 jobs.
Across the state, communities are planning to salute National Travel and Tourism Week in a variety of ways. Following is a list of places and activities planned, as submitted by the individual locations.
Bentonville: The Arkansas Welcome Center in Bentonville, located on U.S. Highway 71, will celebrate May 7-13. There will be refreshments, such as canned soda and bottled water, a table manned by a staff member from Devil’s Den State Park, and some free giveaways such as Arkansas stickers and “I Drive Arkansas” pencils. For more information, contact William Armacost, Welcome Center Manager, at 479-855-3111.
Blytheville: The Arkansas Welcome Center in Blytheville, located on Interstate 55 South, will celebrate throughout the week. There will be a proclamation day kick-off at 10 a.m. on May 7 with local mayors and State Representative Monte Hodges, brunch, and a meet and greet, along with staff from Parkin Archeological State Park and a display from Arkansas Made/Arkansas Grown. Greet the staff from Lake Poinsett on May 8. Visit with staff from Crowley’s Ridge State Park on May 9. Staff from Hampson Archeological Museum State Park will greet visitors, along with Mike Kearney from the local Fire Department on May 10. On May 11, visit with the staff from Village Creek State Park and Chase Tractor. End the week with representatives from Lake Frierson State Park and the Local Car Club on May 12. For more information, contact Shelia Ward, Welcome Center Manager, at 870-762-2512.
Corning: The Arkansas Welcome Center in Corning, located on U.S. Hwy 67, will have events throughout the week. On May 10, they will celebrate what would have been the 90th wedding anniversary of Ernest and Pauline Hemingway. They will serve wedding cake, dress in official Arkansas wedding attire, and display an exhibit of a replica of Pauline’s dress and the charming Ernest in his suit. A new exhibit case from the Arkansas State University Heritage Site will feature items of the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum in Piggott. On May 11, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will share some of its latest publications. On May 12, visit with Kenny Renshaw, an ambassador for NASA Solar Systems. He will show a short presentation on the solar system, display a piece of a meteorite that landed in Paragould in 1930, and showcase a collection of items on loan from NASA. For more information, contact Barbara Harmon, Welcome Center Manager, at 870-857-6014.
Harrison: The Arkansas Welcome Center in Harrison, located on U.S. Hwy 65, will celebrate Tourism Week on May 9. Visitors will be served refreshments and snacks throughout the day. Look for us in our temporary facilities (the construction trailer). Come in and see the plans for our new center currently under construction on the same site. For more information, contact Leesha Miller, Welcome Center Manager, at 870-741-3343.
Helena-West Helena: The Arkansas Welcome Center in Helena-West Helena, located on the U.S. Hwy 49 bypass, will celebrate Tourism Week by having the opportunity for visitors to take an “ArkanSelfie” with an Arkansas cut-out sign, and local tourism partners will be present for photos at their own booths. There will be giveaways and prizes. The Civil War display banners will be on loan that week from the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program. The Welcome Center will have special refreshments all week. For more information, contact Dawna Parker, Welcome Center Manager, at 870-338-7602.
Hot Springs: The Visitor Information Center in Hot Springs, located at 629 Central Avenue, will celebrate Tourism Week starting May 7, by hosting a passport themed photo booth from 1 to 3 p.m. at Hill Wheatley Plaza in conjunction with Arts & The Park. On May 9, the Visitor Information Center will highlight some of the many people who make the tourism community in Hot Springs so special. Join in on Facebook live @VisitHotSprings for a full day rally to honor the unique faces that, collectively, make Hot Springs shine. Post your own Facebook live video, and connect with Hot Springs and Tourism Week participants using the following hashtags: #VisitHotSprings and #NTTW17. On May 12, close out the week at Low Key Arts for a Shonen Knife concert at 8:30 p.m. and May 13 at the Tower of Ministries for a Beatles tribute band. For more information, check out the Visit Hot Springs blog at www.HotSprings.org or contact Cora Easterday at 501-321-2277.
Lake Village: The Arkansas Welcome Center in Lake Village, located on U.S. Hwy 65-82, will celebrate with several events throughout the week. On May 8, an interpreter from Lake Chicot State Park will be on site with a display of snakes, and possibly alligators, for tourists to see and touch. On May 9, visit with staff from the WWII Japanese American Internment Museum in McGehee and the Jerome and Rohwer Internment Camp sites. Lakeport Plantation will be present with a display and presentation on the Lakeport Plantation, which is near Lake Village, on May 10. The Lakeside High School Band will welcome tourists on May 11. All presentation times are from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., but stay as long as you’d like. Lake Village Welcome Center will also be giving away free samples of Riceland Rice with recipes. For more information, contact Martin Reese, Welcome Center Manager, at 870-265-5832.
Little Rock: The Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau will host a rally event on May 8 at Benny Craig Park. The event will showcase Fourche Creek with a boat ramp ribbon cutting and complimentary guided canoe trips hosted by Gretchen Hall, President & CEO at Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau; Kane Webb, Executive Director of Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism; and Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola. For more information, contact Libby Lloyd at 501-376-4781.
Mammoth Spring: The Arkansas Welcome Center in Mammoth Spring, located on Hwy 63 North, partners with local businesses to give away door prizes, refreshments, helium balloons, and more during National Travel and Tourism Week. This year’s sponsors include the Ozark Gateway Tourism Association, Wal-Mart, Subway, Town & Country Supermarket, Pepsi, the Bank of Salem, FNBC Bank, Southern Bank and Simmons Bank. This year one door prize includes two nights lodging for two at one of Arkansas’s State Park Lodges. For more information, contact Mike Franklin, Welcome Center Manager, at 870-625-7364.
North Little Rock: The North Little Rock Visitors Information Center in Burns Park will celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week May 8-12 with bottled water for guests. For more information, contact Stephanie Slagle at 501-758-1424.
Siloam Springs: The Arkansas Welcome Center in Siloam Springs, located on U.S. Hwy 412, will celebrate with Little Debbie snacks, Cavender’s Seasoning, and Riceland Rice all week. On May 12, the Welcome Center will serve hot dogs, BBQ chicken sandwiches, baked beans, and salad for all guests. For more information, contact Betty Ross, Welcome Center Manager, at 479-524-4445.
Texarkana: The Texarkana Welcome Center, located on Interstate 30 East, will celebrate on May 9-11. Rocky the Resource Raccoon from Arkansas State Parks will be onsite. Mayor Ruth Penney Bell will read the Governor’s Proclamation of Tourism Week on May 10. Other special guests include Four States Auto Museum, Corvette Club, Victory Riders Club, Clinton Birthplace Home, and Texarkana Twins collegiate baseball players. Special entertainment will be provided by Alan & Jerry, and Hempstead County Melody Boys. Enjoy booths by White Oak Lake State Park, DeGray Lake Resort State Park, Cossatot River State Park, Historic Washington State Park, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Rick Evans Grandview Prairie Conservation Education Center, Ron Coleman Crystal Mine, and Westrock Coffee. Giveaways include Little Debbie snack cakes, Riceland Rice, Cavender’s Greek Seasoning, Yarnell’s Ice Cream, Post Winery Muscadine Juice and Williams’ Tavern Chocolate Earthquake Cake. For more information, contact Melissa Adams, Welcome Center Manager, at 870-772-4301.
The Red River Welcome Center, located on U.S. Highway 71 North in Texarkana, will host Rally Day on May 9 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Beginning May 1, visitors can register for a drawing to be held at 2 p.m. on event day. They do not have to be present to win. Prizes include gift certificates from Texarkana area businesses such as a $25 gift certificate from Lagniappe Meats, two free oil changes from Cooper Tire and a $15 gift certificate from Big Jake’s BBQ. Hot dogs, chips, Little Debbie snack cakes and bottled water will be served. There will be representatives from Crater of Diamonds State Park, Queen Wilhelmina State Park, Cossatot River State Park, Historic Washington State Park, Williams’ Tavern restaurant, and the Tex-Ark Car Club. Samples of Riceland Rice and Cavender’s Greek Seasoning available all week. For more information, contact Sheila Nichols, Welcome Center Manager, at 870-772-7511.
Van Buren/Fort Smith: The Arkansas Welcome Center in Van Buren/Fort Smith, located near mile marker 3 on Interstate 40 East, will treat travelers to complimentary Arkansas-made products including locally made candies and samples of one of Arkansas’s leading agricultural exports – rice. In addition, there will be random prize giveaways happening all week. On May 11 at noon, the mayors of Van Buren and Fort Smith will greet visitors and read an official proclamation announcing Arkansas Tourism Week. Representatives from the advertising and promotion commissions from Van Buren and Fort Smith will select a lucky tourist and present them with a gift basket. The interpreter from Lake Fort Smith State Park will be onsite with live snakes to educate travelers about these reptiles and about the unique history and heritage of the Van Buren/Fort Smith area. For more information, contact Kevin Billings, Welcome Center Manager, at 479-474-9512.
West Memphis: The Arkansas Welcome Center in West Memphis, located on Interstate 40 North, will celebrate Tourism Week on May 11, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. There will be a variety of food and door prizes for visitors all week. Representatives and displays from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, the Sultana Museum, the Osceola Historical Museum, and the Arkansas Geological Survey Commission will be onsite. Adoption Options from Southland Park Gaming and Racing will be in attendance, as well as East Arkansas Family Health Center. For more information, contact Calanda Young, Welcome Center Manager at 870-735-3637.
For general information on National Travel and Tourism Week, contact Cassie Crane, Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, at 501-682-1676.