Tourism partners from across the state will gather March 2-3 for the 47th Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism and Hospitality. This year’s conference is virtual and free with the theme “GRIT: Generating Recovery in Tourism.”

It builds on last year’s theme, “Tourism Takes Grit,” which was especially true in 2020 and one of the reasons this year’s conference is offered free of charge.

This annual meeting of Arkansas’s tourism industry offers educational and motivational sessions on destination marketing, current travel trends, state of the industry, heritage tourism and more. Moving to a virtual component this year has garnered record registration with participants from across Arkansas and the U.S.

Due to last year’s popularity, the featured keynote speaker once again will be Jamie Clarke, a renowned adventurer who has summitted the world’s highest peaks. Using lessons learned from his travels, Clarke will draw parallels to the dynamic environments found in the office and in nature during his session at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 2.

Guest speaker Ryan Thompson, senior vice president of Miles Partnership, will provide a practical session about how to use filmmaking and literature formulas to tell tourism stories at 11 a.m. on March 2.

An in-depth session on marketing the 2024 eclipse in Arkansas is on the schedule for 9 a.m. on March 3.

Because of the virtual aspect of this year’s conference, the ArkTank challenge and Henry Awards will not take place, but will return next year when the conference is expected to be in person again. However, the 2020 ArkTank winner, Eksplor Gaming, will offer a fun trivia game based on the Arkansas Travel Guide during this year’s virtual conference.

The online aspect of the conference also brings a change for the Arkansas Tourism Development Foundation’s annual auction, which will be online as well. The money raised from the silent and live auctions fund scholarships for individuals seeking careers in the hospitality and tourism industries.

This year’s conference is completely free, so register today. For a full conference schedule and to register, visit www.arkansasgovernorsconference.com.