45th Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism begins February 24 in Hot Springs

Tourism partners from across the state will meet at the 45th Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism February 24-26 at the Hot Springs Convention Center. This year’s conference theme is “Tourism Builds Community.”

The annual gathering of Arkansas’s tourism industry offers sessions on a variety of topics such as Google’s latest trends, marketing to a diverse audience and 21st-century visitor engagement.

New to the conference this year is the inaugural ArkTank startup pitch competition. The winner will walk away with a cash prize of $5,000 and guaranteed mentorship from Arkansas Tourism and Innovate Arkansas, which helps technology entrepreneurs turn startup companies into viable commercial enterprises.

Also new this year is a unique collaborative networking space called “Share Space,” located in Room 206 of the convention center. Attendees have the opportunity for one-on-one conversations with conference speakers and other industry professionals to collaborate, brainstorm and learn.

The opening keynote speaker for the event is Erica Wheeler, a visitor experience specialist, educator and award-winning songwriter. She is the founder of Sense of Place Consulting and has worked extensively with the National Park Service, offering interpretive skills training for staff from Yosemite National Park to Independence Hall. She has also worked with many cultural and natural heritage sites across the country, including state parks and museums.

Among the speakers are Amanda Rast from the national PR agency Fleishman-Hillard, Arkansas State Parks Director Grady Spann, Tourism Director of the Batesville Chamber of Commerce Kyle Christopher, Executive Director of the Arkansas Festivals and Events Association Jenna Friday and many more.

The Arkansas Tourism Development Foundation’s annual auction will take place Monday night. The money raised from the silent and live auctions funds scholarships for individuals seeking careers in the hospitality and tourism industries.

The conference will culminate with the presentation of the 2019 Henry Awards and an address by Governor Asa Hutchinson.

The Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism was first held in 1975 at Dogpatch, U.S.A.

The full schedule for this year’s conference can be viewed here.