Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson recently announced that the state will create an Office of Outdoor Recreation (OREC) within the state’s Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism (ADPHT). The new office will be focused on developing new opportunities to showcase the state’s wide variety of outdoor activities, including boating, trail activities, and cycling.
Arkansas is among the first southern state to join a growing list of 17 states with outdoor recreation offices, task forces, or advisory councils focused on expanding the outdoor recreation economy. Outdoor recreation is big business in Arkansas, producing $2.9 billion in annual economic impact and supporting over 39,000 jobs.
“The Office of Outdoor Recreation provides critically needed support as we look to expand our recreational opportunities in Arkansas and contribute to the state’s tourism value,” Hutchinson said. “These new outdoor recreation offerings illustrate the many opportunities at hand.”
The governor’s office reports the new program will collect and analyze data to develop metrics that show how outdoor recreation is impacting the Arkansas economy in order to make future plans for developing new recreational opportunities.
The governor was joined by Stacy Hurst, Secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism and Congressman French Hill, as he announced the new program.
“If there’s one thing the pandemic has made clear, it’s that people need the freedom of the outdoors for their health, quality of life and peace of mind, and it helps attract businesses and families to create thriving, livable communities,” Hurst said. “I am looking forward to working with this team to enhance the state’s economy and offerings for the public.”