The Hot Springs Visitor Center has recorded an increase in visitors for the year, with at least one visitor from all 50 states already recorded by May, Visit Hot Springs CEO Steve Arrison said.
Last year, the visitor center didn't record the 50th state until December, he said. By May this year, there had been visitors from 50 different countries, as well, he said.
"It's not really a science, the way we count them when they come in the visitor center, but our team members down there ask them where they're from, write it down," he said.
A total of 61,329 people have been through the visitor center through May, a 9.72% increase from the same time last year, Arrison said. Hospitality tax collections have gone up as well by nearly 9%.
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The number of visitors to the visitor center has continued to increase since 2021, which could be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic in more ways than one.
"I think, you know, (the pandemic) is over, people are traveling more, they discovered us, that we were a safe place to travel during COVID, so it's taken off since then," Arrison said. "So it's just been a great thing for us."
Another asset Arrison said he thinks has helped the city reach more visitors is digital marketing, which Visit Hot Springs has sprung into in recent years.
"I think it allows you inexpensively to reach people that we could never reach before," he said. "You run into people from Utah or from states that we never would record down at the visitor center. You don't run into them once a week, but several times a day you might hear somebody from some state that you just don't think about, that they're coming to Hot Springs for a weekend, for vacation or just for a day passing through."
All of the various events and festivals in Hot Springs also add to the success, he said. One of those events is Bridge Street LIVE, with attendance records as high as 2,939 on June 8 featuring Manhattan, according to information in an email from Arrison.
"I think all the great things that happen in Hot Springs, from events that we do like the World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade to Bridge Street LIVE, but you've got the Documentary Film Festival and all the other great festivals that we have in the community," he said.
"You know, Art in the Park, all those add up, and that's the product of Hot Springs.
"There's just so much to do here for all members of the family, so I think that's a big key to our success."
As to how the city can keep that success and increase the number of visitors even further, he said teamwork was the key.
"It's all going in the positive direction, and we just gotta keep doing that and keep working together," he said. "And I think that's the key to the success of Hot Springs in the future."