Travis Napper, director of tourism in the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism since April 2020, has resigned to take a job in tourism consulting.
He oversaw the revival of the state's hospitality industry after it collapsed from the covid-19 pandemic. On LinkedIn, the business and employment-focused social media platform, he noted that Arkansas has seen 24 consecutive months of record collections from the state's tourism tax, 2% of expenditures on lodging and attractions.
Over his tenure, Arkansas Tourism completed and initiated a new strategic plan, expanded international marketing, added an internal marketing staff, started new grant programs and promoted the state's outdoor recreational activities.
"Some of what I've had the most fun with is the work we've done with data," he wrote, describing the delivery of "personalized, marketing and advertising experiences to potential visitors [that] have been able to set Arkansas tourism apart and make Arkansas a true leader in this space.
"Because of the comprehensive strategic planning process that was built with the feedback from our Arkansas Tourism industry the plan is in play and will be able to be continued," he continued. "It gives me the confidence that Arkansas Tourism hasn't hit its peak but it's still on the rise, and I look forward to following along."
Napper said his last day in the office will be June 23.
The department's secretary, Mike Mills, praised Napper's work in a statement.
"The challenges the Division of Tourism faced were unprecedented but with his help the tourism industry recovered more quickly than other states," he said. "I enjoyed working with Travis and wish him and his family the best in this next chapter."
Napper is becoming director of destination partnerships for Tourism Economics, a tourism consultancy that provides travel data and forecasts, economic impact assessments, and policy and market analysis. It's part of Oxford Economics, a British economic advisory firm, with a United States headquarters in suburban Philadelphia.
"I can't wait to help bring solutions to DMOs [destination marketing organizations] of all sizes," he wrote. "I plan to bring what I have learned from leading both a State Tourism office and a city CVB [convention and visitors bureau] to provide analytically-based consulting to DMO professionals and travel industry leaders."
Napper previously headed Ruston, La.'s, Convention and Visitors Bureau after working in admissions at Louisiana Tech University, where he earned a bachelor's degree.
"I will cherish the many memories, friends, and experiences I made while in this role. I have learned so much and been inspired throughout my time in this position," Napper said in a statement. "I look forward to the new opportunity and challenges."