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Tourism Week Observed Through May 12 in Arkansas

Communities across the state plan special events as part of their local celebrations.
LITTLE ROCK, AR - Tourism Week is underway in Arkansas after kicking off on Saturday.

A proclamation by Governor Mike Beebe makes it official and recognizes the positive economic, social, and cultural impact of the travel and tourism industry.

Last year, nearly 23 million visitors traveled in Arkansas. They spent an estimated $5.8 billion, which generated $301 million in state taxes and $109 million in local taxes.

Here's a look at what some communities across the state are planning to salute Tourism Week:

Batesville: The Ozark Gateway Tourist Council will celebrate in Batesville on Friday in conjunction with Second Friday activities. Beginning at 1 p.m., free lunches of burgers, hot dogs, beverages, and other treats will be served in Pocket Park, sponsored by Citizen's Bank. WRD Entertainment will be broadcasting live from Main Street some of the day; Rob Grace will be the master of ceremonies. The library and Fellowship Bible Church at the Landers Theater will also be involved with programs and events. Local non-profits, charities, and musicians are invited to attend, distribute information, or have drawings for prizes. Area businesses are being encouraged to stay open until 7 p.m. Simply Southern Music Hall will have its regular musical show at 7 p.m.

Bentonville: The Arkansas Welcome Center, located on US Highway 71 in Bella Vista, will celebrate on Saturday. Free drinks and snacks will be available courtesy of Allen's Foods of Bella Vista. Gift baskets from area communities will be given away throughout the day.

Blytheville: The Arkansas Welcome Center in Blytheville, located on Interstate 55 South, started celebrating on Saturday by welcoming representatives from Blanchard Springs who shared information with visitors and held a drawing for three Walmart gift cards. Refreshments will be served to visitors compliments of Walmart on Tuesday, Zaxby's on Wednesday, and Holiday Inn on Thursday. On Friday, Shipley's Donuts will be available. A display from the Mississippi County Historical and Genealogy Museum in Osceola will be on display through the end of the month.

Corning: The Arkansas Welcome Center in Corning will kick-start Tourism Week celebrations today with an open house serving homemade cookies and punch to visitors. Free bags of Riceland Rice will be distributed. The Welcome Center commissioned the 2-A Second Grade class of Corning Elementary School to fill in Arkansas line drawn pages. The 22 brightly-colored pages are on display in the lobby of the Center and will be voted on by tourists to determine the best of the lot. The winner will be announced during tourism week and a gift will be given to each student. The staff has transformed a silk pine tree into an "Arkansas Adventure Tree." Photos of tourists are being placed on the tree along with their home city and Arkansas destination. Pocahontas will be featured during the month of May. A decorated table of products, services, and destinations will be on display in the lobby. It consists of jams, honey and mixes, pottery, natural fiber yarns, pendant jewelry, antiques, and museum brochures. The book Arkansas Pie: A Delicious Slice of the Natural State, written by Kat Robinson, will be included.

El Dorado: The Arkansas Welcome Center in El Dorado will be serving coffee and chocolate chip cookies to visitors all week. On Thursday, a civil war interpreter from Historic Washington State Park will be on hand from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.  

Harrison: The Harrison Welcome Center will celebrate on Wednesday. Hot dogs, chips, cookies, and other food donated by local restaurants and bakeries will be available from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. The Mayor of Harrison will be at the facility to present a proclamation for Tourism Week. Owners and employees of local attractions and businesses are encouraged to attend and distribute information to visitors. A Hospitality Class from Harrison High School will be on hand to observe and talk with visitors about Arkansas.

Helena-West Helena: The staff of the Arkansas Welcome Center will host a celebration on Tuesday from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. Come by and have cake and coffee and say goodbye to the old center. Register for a night at the Edwardian Inn Bed and Breakfast, to be given away at the opening of the new Welcome Center later this summer. A grand celebration will be held at that time.

Lake Village: The Lake Village Welcome Center will celebrate throughout the week with giveaways including Cavender's Greek Seasoning packages, rice recipes and bags from Riceland Foods, rice packets from Harvest Rice of McGehee, and drink koozies compliments of South Shore Cottages. Visitors can register to win a gift certificate from Turn On Inn Cabins and RV Park for a 2-night weekend or 3-night weekday stay in an original shotgun or farm house cabin. Today, Lakeport Plantation staff will make presentations from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. about the story of the home and of tours they offer. On Tuesday, Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge will have a presentation about the history and services of the refuge from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. On Wednesday, Cane Creek State Park will have a presentation and Sisters from Twinkle Town will perform live music from 10:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. South Shore Cottages will provide refreshments. On Thursday, Lake Chicot State Park Interpreter Brian Whitson will be on hand to answer questions.

Mammoth Spring: The Mammoth Spring Welcome Center will celebrate tourism on Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., with free balloons and refreshments, live bluegrass music and Museum Tours at the 1886 Frisco Depot Museum. There will also be a vendor on-hand making homestyle ice cream. Door prizes will be given out - and someone will take home a big award at the end.

Newton County: The Newton County Chamber of Commerce has had May 4-12 proclaimed Tourism Week in both the town of Jasper and Newton County. A photo will appear in the Newton County Times showing county Judge Warren Campbell and Mayor Shane Kilgore signing the proclamations. The chamber of commerce has also shared an opinion piece with the local newspaper, highlighting the importance of tourism to the local economy. A "Salute to Our Visitors" recognition program is underway, with welcome flyers hanging in the chamber shop and local businesses offering discounts to guests. One lucky randomly selected visitor will receive a $20 gift certificate. Travelers who register at Lost Valley Canoe and Lodging's Historic Ponca General Store will be entered in a drawing for a free one-night stay at a cabin on the property. The winner will be selected on Sunday.

Pine Bluff: The Pine Bluff Convention & Visitors Bureau will celebrate all week. In recognition of the tremendous economic impact that travel and tourism have in their community, the CVB is encouraging citizens to visit the many local attractions during the week. During Tourism Week, there will be registration buckets at area attractions and museums to register to win a $300 gift card. The more locations you visit the more chances you have to win the prize. The drawing will take place, live on K-Train 104.5 FM, on May 14 at 9:30 a.m. The winner will be notified. Participating locations include Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame, Arkansas Railroad Museum, Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas, Delta Rivers Nature Center, Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Historical Museum, The Martha Mitchell Home, and UAPB Museum & Cultural Center.

Siloam Springs: The Siloam Springs Welcome Center will be celebrating Tourism Week all week giving out Little Debbie snacks, Cavender's Seasoning sample packets, Riceland Rice, and Day Spring day planners. On Friday, they will serve donuts and coffee for the early travelers and hot dogs, BBQ chicken, potato salad, and baked beans at lunch time. A representative from Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge will be at the center with a display and an educational animal.

Texarkana: The Texarkana Welcome Center, located on Interstate 30 East celebrates National Tourism Week today from 10:00 a.m. until noon. Visitors can explore displays, exhibits, and participate in activites from several Arkansas State Parks. Nashville City Park will give away two tickets to the Dustin Lynch concert to be held on May 24. The Nashville dinosaur "Trax" will also make an appearance. Local businesses will be on hand to visit with travelers, and local musicians will provide entertainment. Refreshments will be served, and Riceland Foods sample rice bags will be given away.

The Red River Welcome Center, located in Texarkana on US Highway 71 North, began celebrations for throughout the week on Saturday, giving visitors rice recipes and samples of rice from Riceland Foods. There will also be an opportunity for guests to register to win a $25 gift certificate from Castle Antiques in Ashdown and two free concert tickets to a Dustin Lynch concert at the Nashville City Park on May 24 at 7:30 p.m. The drawing for the prizes will be held on Thursday. Celebrations that day will be begin at 11 a.m. and go until 1 p.m. Hot dogs, chips, and bottled water will be served compliments of Brookshire's in Ashdown. Elizabeth Sorenson, Millwood State Park Interpreter, will be at the center with turtles. Trax, the dinosaur from Nashville's City Park, will also visit the Center. Antique cars from the Four States Auto Museum will be on display.

Van Buren & Fort Smith: The Arkansas Welcome Center at Van Buren/Fort Smith, located near mile marker 3 on Interstate 40, will be celebrating throughout Tourism Week by treating tourists with Arkansas-made products including locally made candies and sample rice bags. In addition, there will be random prize giveaways all week. Today, the interpreter from Lake Fort Smith State Park visits with travelers about the unique history and heritage of the area. On Wednesday, the mayors of Van Buren and Fort Smith will greet visitors and read an official proclamation announcing Tourism Week. Representatives from the Advertising & Promotion Commissions from Van Buren and Fort Smith will lightheartedly "capture" a lucky tourist and present them with a gift basket.

West Memphis: The Arkansas Welcome Center will celebrate on Wednesday from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Hot dogs, chips, and drinks will be served to tourists. One lucky tourist will be presented with a basket of goodies. Local dignitaries have been invited to assist with greeting and assisting tourists.
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