State Tourism Director Speaks at ATU Symposium

Travis Napper at ATU 4-5-2023
The 2023 Arkansas Tech University Outdoor Recreation Symposium concluded on Wednesday, April 5, with a closing keynote from Travis Napper, director of tourism for the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, at ATU's Williamson Hall Dining Room.

Travis Napper, director of tourism for the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, provided an overview of the current state of tourism in the Natural State during an appearance at Arkansas Tech University on Wednesday, April 5.

Napper was the closing keynote speaker for the 2023 ATU Outdoor Recreation Symposium, which was presented by the ATU Department of Agriculture and Tourism and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.

As part of his remarks, Napper shared that Arkansas increased its market share of travel spending relative to other states during the COVID-19 pandemic and that Arkansas has maintained those gains. He reported survey data that found 75 percent of Arkansans believe tourism is good for the state and 60 percent of Arkansans believe that tourism is an important component of the state’s economy. Both of those percentages are above regional and national rates.

Napper provided a preview of Arkansas’ spring and summer tourism marketing campaign, which has a theme of “Near it All, But Far Away.” He shared an overview of the process for a new Arkansas tourism strategic plan and the themes that have emerged from that planning process.

In addition, Napper told the audience of ATU faculty and students and local tourism leaders that his operating area has published the Arkansas Waterfalls Guide as a resource for outdoor enthusiasts and reminded them that Arkansas State Parks is celebrating its centennial in 2023.

There was also conversation about plans for the April 8, 2024, total solar eclipse, which is projected to be the largest tourism event in Arkansas history.

The ATU Outdoor Recreation Symposium was created in 2022 under the leadership of Dr. Michael Bradley, associate professor of parks, recreation and hospitality administration.

This year’s event included presentations on aquatic diversity in Arkansas by Dr. Kyler Hecke, public lands adventures by No Barrier Adventures, recycling and sustainability by Keep Arkansas Beautiful, outdoor photography by Kurt Jones, Arkansas trails by Mike Sprague and Matt McNair from the Arkansas Office of Outdoor Recreation and Arkansas stream habitats by Aaron Norton.

Founded in 1965, the recreation and park administration degree program at Arkansas Tech offers students the opportunity to concentrate their studies in one of four disciplines: interpretation, natural resources, recreation sport management or therapeutic recreation. The program is accredited by the Council on Accreditation National Recreation and Park Association.

Learn more about the study of recreation and park administration at ATU by visiting