Governor Makes Visit to Jonesboro for Tourism Conference

MARCH 7, 2006 -- POSTED AT 10:00 P.M. CST

JONESBORO, AR -- The Annual Governor's Conference on Tourism comes to a close in Jonesboro.

Tourism is the number two industry in the State of Arkansas and this week's conference worked to improve an industry that is very valuable to the natural state. All in hopes of bringing more money into Arkansas, as well as giving Arkansans an exciting place to call home.

But Arkansans should probably think twice about taking tourism for granted.

"We had 22 million guests last year and they paid over a quarter of a billion dollars in state taxes and those are dollars that keep the schools open and the prison doors closed," says Joe David Rice, Arkansas Tourism Director.

The Governor gives credit to 2 things for the increase in tourism over the past few years. First,the portion of sales tax going to tourism created by the 1996 Conservation Act. And second, the new products from the private sectors, such as the new Nature Center right here in Jonesboro.

The people of Jonesboro, and all over the state, have begun to understand the impact tourism has on the State of Arkansas. And that's something Governor Huckabee says will only continue to grow in 2006.

"It's an important part of who we are and what we do. Arkansas is the natural state and we celebrate the fact that we have a lot for people to do, a family friendly environment and an affordable place for people to come and spend their leisure time as well as their discretionary dollars," says Governor Huckabee.

The Governor stressed the importance of outsiders bringing in dollars to the state, but at the same time, Arkansans need to realize what we have to offer, right here in our own backyard.

"If it's been awhile, then it's too long and they need to spend some of their vacation dollars right here at home this year. They'll be amazed at what Arkansas has to offer," says Governor Huckabee.

And while we had the Governor at our discretion, we had to ask the question everyone's dying to know. Will another Arkansas Governor make a presidential race?

"I don't know, but I know one thing if I did, I can't think of a better group of people that I would be proud of than the people of Arkansas to represent," says Governor Huckabee.

One of the main reasons for the Governors visit was to recognize those who promote Arkansas, bring visitors and help bring literally millions of dollars to our state's economy.