Little Rock, Ark (March 25, 2021) — The Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau (LRCVB) has publicly released its 2020 annual report, reflecting the city’s performance as a leisure and business travel destination in the midst of a global pandemic.
While 2020 was on track to be a year of record-setting leisure visitation and tax collection, the COVID-19 pandemic ground travel to a halt worldwide. Little Rock advertising & promotion (A&P) tax collections fell to $12 million, an amount not seen since 2013.
Though the year presented an incredible challenge, the LRCVB was able to pivot and find new opportunities to sustain growth. Though the LRCVB’s managed facilities — Statehouse Convention Center, Robinson Center, and River Market — experienced nearly 300 group cancellations and more than 50 postponements, sales efforts continued securing 148 future group event contracts, representing more than 66,000 hotel room nights and $37 million in estimated direct spending.
The LRCVB’s marketing department began 2020 with the launch of a new brand positioning for the leisure market. The popular “Big on Little Rock” slogan from the 1990s was reimagined into “If you’re big on (target interest), you’re big on Little Rock,” a vibrant and modern brand statement that provides the LRCVB an opportunity to communicate with visitors but also energizes and inspires local pride to increase brand adoption and brand ambassadorship with Little Rock residents.
Soon after the pandemic’s onset, the new branding was utilized to create the “Big on Safety Pledge.” Two hundred (200) local businesses have taken the pledge and have agreed to follow CDC and Arkansas Department of Health guidelines to ensure the safest environment for employees and guests.
2020 was a year unlike any other for the tourism industry. Still, due to years of strategic planning, the flexibility and hard work on the part of LRCVB staff, and public optimism about future travel plans, the LRCVB is well-positioned to lead the local tourism industry’s pandemic recovery efforts. Tourism has long been known as Arkansas’s second largest economic industry. Pulaski County has historically accounted for 25% of total travel expenditures in the state and 20% of the state’s total travel-related employment. Little Rock is the county’s largest DMA (designated market area). Download the full annual report here.
2020 Key Highlights:
- 149 events held at LRCVB managed facilities – down 73% from 2019
- $12 Million in A&P prepared food and lodging tax collections – down 19.1% from 2019
- 148 future meetings secured with an estimated $36.8 million direct spending impact
- 131,600+ fan and follower growth on social media
- 203 out-of-market Little Rock media segments/stories
Little Rock Accolades:
- Robinson Center named Preserve Arkansas’s 2019 Outstanding New Construction in a Historic Setting
- Robinson Center deemed honorable mention for Tourism Development in Arkansas Business’ Trendsetter City Award
- LRCVB’s “We’re Ready For You” video wines SMART Meetings Magazine contest
- Gretchen Hall named one of Arkansas Money & Politics’ 2020 Top Influencers
- Gretchen Hall received 2020 Governor’s Arts Community Development Award from the Arkansas Arts Council
- LRCVB social media team award Arkansas Tourism Henry Award for “Exceptional Use of Social Media” for branded GIF stickers
- Little Rock named a “Bronze” friendly city by the American League of Bicyclists
- Lassis Inn named an “American Classic” by the James Beard Foundation
- Arkansas Food Hall of Fame inductees: Scott McGehee, Proprietor of the Year; International Greek Food Festival, Food Themed Event
- Museum of Discovery named #6 of Top 10 Best Children’s Museums by 10Best/USA Today
- Little Rock was included in NPR’s list of “Small Cities that are a Big Draw for Remote Work During the Pandemic”
ABOUT LITTLE ROCK CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU
Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau (LRCVB) is the official destination marketing organization for the City of Little Rock, charged with marketing and selling the city as a meeting, sports and leisure travel destination. The LRCVB also manages the Statehouse Convention Center, Robinson Center, River Market and multiple parking facilities. For more information, visit www.littlerock.com.