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Visitors to Garland County generated $745 million in 2015, and visitor spending in the county generated more than $57 million in tax revenue for state and local governments, according to a new economic impact study released Friday.

Travel-related expenditures in Hot Springs have grown 33 percent, or $185 million, since 2010, according to the study, which was commissioned by the Hot Springs Advertising and Promotion Commission.

The 33-percent increase exceeds the national rate of 27 percent of increased travel expenditures for the same time period, according to the economic-impact study by inVeritas.

The company is a "nationally recognized national public affairs firm specializing in management consulting, strategic communications, advocacy and research," according to a news release from Visit Hot Springs, the city's convention and visitors bureau, which is operated by the commission.

According to the study, 2.97 million people visited Hot Springs and Garland County in 2015, and 7,455 jobs are directly supported by travel and tourism, the study found, up from 7,142 jobs in 2014, the release said.

Travel-generated local payrolls totaled $127,584,162, according to the study.

Visitor spending in Garland County generated $15.49 million in local tax revenue, it showed.

"These funds help pay for jobs and public programs such as firefighters, police, teachers and infrastructure," the study said.

Garland County is the state's second-highest recipient of tourism dollars, receiving 10.2 percent of state tourism dollars in 2015. Overall, visitors spent nearly $7.3 billion in Arkansas in 2015, up nearly 9 percent from 2014.

Visitors "come from all over," but the top five "origin states" for Arkansas are Texas, Missouri, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and in-state visitors.

"All indications are that 2015 and the first half of 2016 have been very good years for the travel and tourism component of Hot Springs' economy," Steve Arrison, CEO of Visit Hot Springs, said in the release.

"The inVeritas data confirm our own figures and show why Hot Springs continues to be Arkansas' No. 1 tourism destination."

The inVeritas study cited Oaklawn Racing & Gaming's expansion as the leading factor in gauging tourism's economic impact in 2015.

"Oaklawn's privately funded investment in this expansion has totaled $60 million," it said.

Other "notable events" in Hot Springs' economy listed by the study included the opening of Henderson State University's Hot Springs campus; the World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade; a joint venture by HealthSouth Corp. and CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs to own and operate a 40-bed inpatient physical rehabilitation hospital, and the release of the Downtown Economic Development and Redevelopment Action Plan.

Local on 08/07/2016

Print Headline: Study says travel-related spending up since 2010

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