|Subscribe | What is RSS|
Contact: Teri Gage, 870-365-2702
Arkansas National Parks Share Centennial Plans at Tourism Conference
"Making the Connection" was the theme of the presentation made by National Park Service [NPS] officials earlier this week at the Arkansas Governor's Conference on Tourism in Texarkana, AR. Representatives of the Arkansas national parks spoke to tourism industry leaders about the upcoming NPS Centennial celebration being planned for 2016.
Arkansas is home to seven units of the National Park Service: Arkansas Post National Monument, Buffalo National River, Fort Smith National Historic Site, Hot Springs National Park, Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site, Pea Ridge National Military Park, President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site. In addition, the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail crosses the state.
The 2016 Centennial will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Organic Act of 1916, which was signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson to establish the National Park Service. In addition to special events being planned on both the national and local levels, Centennial planners are focusing on strategic objectives that will strengthen and sustain the agency in its second century of operation.
Throughout the NPS presentation, officials emphasized the primary goal of the Centennial which is to "Connect with and create the next generation of park visitors, supporters, and advocates." In addition to several major initiatives that will be launched nationally, each park is making its own plans to mark the occasion.
Looking forward to the next hundred years, park managers are examining visitation statistics, economic impacts, and demographic trends. While visitation to Arkansas national parks was relatively flat from 2004-2013 (averaging 2.8 million visitors per year), visitation figures for 2014 increased nearly 13 percent to over 3.1 million visitors. "We're hoping to sustain this upward visitation trend by reaching out to underserved populations," said Kevin Cheri, Superintendent of Buffalo National River [Harrison, AR]. "We must find a way to connect with young people and diverse populations."
NPS presenters encouraged the audience to engage with their national parks and take advantage of partnership opportunities. "The Centennial goal to connect with the next generation of visitors is a challenge that the NPS shares with the tourism industry," stated Teri Gage, Commercial Services Manager at Buffalo National River. "The people who visit Arkansas' national park sites are the same people tourism entrepreneurs want to attract to their hotels, restaurants, canoe rentals, and shops."
More information about the National Park Service Centennial can be found online at https://www.nps.gov/centennial and at http://nextcenturyforparks.org.