Governor’s conference on tourism begins Sunday

Tourism partners from across the state will meet at the 44th Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism Sunday through next Wednesday at Southland Park Gaming & Racing in West Memphis. This year’s theme is “Natural Connections.” The annual gathering of Arkansas’s tourism industry offers sessions on a variety of topics such as musical heritage, marketing to a diverse audience, social media and more. The early bird party will include Arkansas musicians Amy Garland, Greg Spradlin, and deFrance.Mountain Home resident Brandy Jordan has been nominated for the Outstanding Volunteer Service Award for her work with the 2017 13-year-old Babe Ruth World Series. The event was successful enough to return to the Twin Lakes Area this year. Jordan is the World Series Chair, President and Event Coordinator who worked alongside Mountain Home Youth Baseball League President Tom Czanstkowski and several volunteers.

The nomination Jordan received is for the Parks and Tourism's 2018 Henry Awards. The Outstanding Volunteer Service Award recognizes a community, individual or organization that makes a substantial contribution to Arkansas's tourism industry.

The winners from seven different categories will be revealed.

The opening keynote speaker for the event is former Austin, Texas, Mayor Will Wynn. Governor Asa Hutchinson will present the Tourism Hall of Fame Awards to Cathy Drew and Mike Mills during a luncheon Monday.

Also speaking during the conference will be Aubrey Preston, founder of the nonprofit Americana Music Triangle Project; Cliff Jones, a native of the Arkansas Delta who has explored the region’s rich musical legacy; Jay Salyers, senior vice president at Miles Partnership; Lyn Pilch and Susanne Thiede-Barnet, founders of public relations firm Pilch & Barnet; and Mark Peterson, professor of community and economic development with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service.

The conference will culminate with the presentation of the 2018 Henry Awards.

Other conference topics include:
- How Communities are Using Music as a Tourism Driver
- Destination Selling for Everyone
- Mississippi River Country for the Entire State
- The U.S. Civil Rights Trail
- Co-op Marketing
- Enhancing Tourism Through Walking Trails

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

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