Economic Impact of Tourism on the Rise in Independence County


The increased focus on attracting visitors to Batesville and Independence County has paid off according to the 2017 Arkansas Tourism Economic Impact report produced by the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. Total travel expenditures in Independence County were up by $5,115,660.00 in 2017 compared to the previous year.

The rise in expenditures can be attributed to several different factors according to Tourism Director Kyle Christopher. “The number of attractions our community can now offer visitors has improved dramatically over the past year. The Batesville Community Center and Aquatics Park welcomed over 185,000 guests in 2017, many of which were visitors from out of town. The revitalization of Downtown Batesville which included the completion of the streetscape project, the first phase of Maxfield Park, the opening of several retail and dining options and the first full year of operation from the historic Melba Theater. The White River Wonderland Christmas display had approximately 120,000 visitors this season. The addition and improvement of area events was also a major factor. Southside School District hosted the 4A State Soccer and Volleyball tournaments in 2017. The Batesville Motor Speedway added the Race for Hope 74 which brought drivers in from across the country for nearly a full week. The 74th White River Water Carnival also enjoyed a record year for attendance. Our community has begun making waves statewide and I believe we have the momentum to sustain continued growth into the future.”

Other Notable Independence County Statistics Include:

Travel-Generated Local Tax (Dollars): 986,590

Travel-Generated Employment (Jobs): 527

Visitors (Person-Trips): 204,852

For more information about Batesville and Independence County please or call 870-793-2378

Ginger Smith joined OGTC in 2014 as a volunteer, and has lived in this area since 1972 when she moved to be near her parents, the late Doss and Vivian Burgess. Her late father was Independence County Appraiser and any time family, whether kids or grand kids, came to visit for even a short time, he would take them to A.D. Hill’s grocery store, and get them a soda pop and candy bar, see the talking bird there, and end up “checking out the great White River.” All the kids and grands have played on the banks there, picnicked, and played on the old train. Ginger is adamant, since she moved to Batesville, there is just no other place to raise a family. Her love for the area and desire to help promote it in her professional capacity led her to seek volunteering, and Charlie Morris, whom she met when she was a typesetter at the Daily Guard Newspaper, put her in touch with Cathy Drew, Executor Director of OGTC. She has been on board since then and says she has loved everything she has done and is proud to represent North Central Arkansas.
The last 20 years of her employment she worked for the late County Judge David Wyatt, West Elementary School Principal Jerry Harris, and Circuit Clerk Claudia Nobles and Judge John Kemp. At the Guard Office she says she made friends for a life time, and then the West Elementary teachers, students, and their families grew close to her forever. Her last job she was hired in a newly created position to collect felony fines and restitution. She was so proud that after three years she more than tripled the annual revenues that she retired! Her part-time retirement job was with the ortho docs, Drs. Allen and Angel where she also met many people from all over the area, and made another set of new friends! She is a published writer and has also written feature articles for the Batesville Guard TV Guide and the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.
She has a daughter, Misty Long Sparks, son-in-law Dloyd Sparks, and three grands, Dalton Lee, Victoria Lynn and Anna Rose, who own her heart, and three more heartbeat grands, Nico and Corbin of Washington, and a late granddaughter, Ginger Savannah. Her late husband, Ken Smith, was the Batesville Postmaster.
Totally retired now, Ginger offers her time and writing abilities to OGTC as she travels around the state and visits with so many nice folks, writes reviews, and tries to be a worthy representative for Ozark Gateway Tourism. She is a people person who really cares for all God has blessed us with in our beautiful state of Arkansas in the United States of America.