Eureka bucking economic trend as year-to-date sales taxes grow

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

EUREKA SPRINGS -- In one of the slowest economic periods in recent memory, and at a time when other tourist destinations are experiencing downturns, Eureka Springs is doing remarkably well, according to the city's administration.

Mayor Dani Joy's office reports that receipts for Eureka Springs city sales taxes have increased, year-to-date, 2.36 percent over last year. Meanwhile, City Advertising and Promotion Commission figures reflect an even larger improvement. Operations Manager Sheila Hulsey said 2008 CAPC tax collections year-to-date are up 9.6 percent over the same period in 2007.

Joy says she believes several factors are responsible for the city's strong economic showing in the face of national financial turmoil. "First of all, our community has come together this year in a coordinated effort to make the tourists' stay in Eureka Springs the best it can be. And, simultaneously, we've done a better job of marketing ourselves."

The mayor also cited high gas prices as a factor. "When gas was nearly $4 a gallon, travelers saved money by staying closer to home." She continued, "Some chose a domestic vacation instead of taking an overseas flight. Many others picked a destination within a few hours drive over one a few days away."

Joy also believes Eureka Springs' relatively inexpensive lodging and meals have helped the city grow while other tourist destinations have declined. "We're quite a bargain compared to the larger, glitzier vacation spots," she said.

Finally, the city's quiet, relaxing feel could be a factor, she said. "When you come here you feel like you've stepped back in time," the mayor said. "We have Victorian homes, locally owned shops in an historic downtown, and no stop lights or mega-malls. We're a very refreshing escape from the rat race -- and, especially these days, people value that!"

Once October figures are received by the city and the CAPC, Chamber of Commerce President Jeff Feldman believes they will show an even larger improvement. "Most of our members say they're having an excellent month," he commented. "And several business owners have told me they've had their biggest days and weekends in history."

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