Jul 26, 2021 - Business
Business travel creeps back up in Springdale
A photo of a Holiday Inn.
The Holiday Inn in Springdale is adjacent to the NWA Convention Center. Photo: Worth Sparkman/Axios

Editor's note: This is the second in a four-part series looking at the state of tourism in NWA's four largest cities as they emerge from the pandemic.

An uptick in business-related travel is contributing to an increase in hotel bookings in Springdale, says Bill Rogers, president of the Springdale Chamber of Commerce, to Axios.

Why it matters: Springdale collects a 2% hotel/motel tax to fund its advertising and promotion efforts. The city does not collect a tax on prepared food sales like some of the other cities in NWA.

  • Business travel is a main driver of the tax collections, such as visits to the city's largest employers, like Tyson Foods and George's Inc., and conferences at the Northwest Arkansas Convention Center, adjacent to the Holiday Inn.
Source: Springdale A&P Commission. Chart: Axios Visuals

State of play: Springdale's hotel/motel tax collections dropped 45% to $287,000 in 2020, from about $523,000 the previous year. Collections for January through May of 2021 are up about $1,000 from the same period in 2019.

  • Rogers said a cursory scan of June's unofficial numbers looks promising.

Details: The tax collected in Springdale goes into three buckets.

  • Advertising agency services, provided by the Springdale Chamber of Commerce
  • Paid advertising, mostly print and online
  • Grants to various events — like Rodeo of the Ozarks, the Hogeye Marathon and the Jones Center — to help offset their promotion-related expenses.

Flashback: Springdale cut its promotional budget in 2020 but was able to fulfill the grants it committed to various events for the year, which is typically about 25% of its annual budget.

  • Seeing the travel downturn last year, the commission was prepared to tap into reserve funds to meet obligations, if needed. It wasn't necessary.

The bottom line: The commission has budgeted $423,000 in revenue for 2021, knowing that Fayetteville's events in the fall — like UA football games and Bikes, Blues and BBQ — should mean more overnight stays.

  • "I think we've turned the corner, but we're not very far down the sidewalk yet," Rogers said.

Go deeper into this series: Fayetteville's tourism budget bounces back thanks to restaurant-goers.

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