Experience Fayetteville: Tourism Organization of the Year

Experience Fayetteville was named Tourism Organization of the Year and also claimed The Natural State Tourism Development Award for Art Court, a unique basketball court enhanced with murals, sculpture, and a virtual reality experience.

The Tourism Organization of the Year honor is presented to “a convention and visitors bureau, advertising and promotion commission, chamber of commerce or other entity for excellence over the course of the previous year,” according to the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism.

Experience Fayetteville’s 2022 season was filled to the brim with innovative initiatives and events that set Fayetteville apart from its peers, drawing visitors from around the state, nation and world and breaking HMR (Hotel, Motel, Restaurant) tax records with a 144% year-over-year increase in lodging HMR tax collections for January 2022 and a 10.5% increase in sales tax revenue compared with January 2021.

Fayetteville hotels, motels, and short-term rentals collected more HMR taxes in January 2022 than in any other January, as thousands of fans, cyclists, team personnel, officials, and vendors filled up rooms across the city for the 2022 Walmart UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships.

Experience Fayetteville’s ArtCourt earned The Natural State Tourism Development Award as an “innovative project with a unique appeal or creative approach that increases pride and placemaking,” according to the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism.

Leaning into Fayetteville’s reputation for having an energetic and eclectic arts and music scene, Experience Fayetteville and development partner, Tyson Family Foundation, built ArtCourt, as an immersive and experimental community space that plays at the intersection of art and sport.

Located at 227 W. Dickson Street, the space was originally a family-owned garage in the 1940s and has been home to everything from the much-loved Dickson Street Theater – which was home to Sunday night drag shows – Art Amiss, a church, fashion shows and decades of great music. 

“ArtCourt, part basketball court, roller skate park, public art, gym, hang out, you name it … it has ultimately become whatever the community wants it to be," says Olivia Tyson, President of Tyson Family Foundation. “Today, it sits at the heart of the street’s lively nightlife scene and active pedestrian sidewalk, and we hope it continues to be a place visitors and residents make their own. We are proud to earn this honor from our peers who recognize what can happen when progressive partnerships come together to breathe new life into an old space.”

Experience Fayetteville CEO Molly Rawn said it was an honor to receive the awards.

“We’ve been working hard to amplify the message that Fayetteville is a vibrant, forward-thinking place to live, work and play. There are great things happening in Arkansas and we’re proud to have our work considered alongside that of our other great cities,” she said. “I’m so proud of our talented team and I look forward to breaking more HMR records with them and encouraging more visitors to come experience Fayetteville.”

Named for Henri de Tonti, founder of Arkansas Post in 1686, the Henry Awards have been a feature of the annual Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism since their debut in 1981.


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