While COVID-19 has impacted tourism and travel as well as business expansion, Arkansas is pushing forward to remain open and ready for business. Tourism and economic officials in Arkansas have spent many years trying to convince people to work, live and play in Arkansas.

Three people working hard on those efforts have new tools and new collaborations to conduct their business thanks to the Arkansas Legislature and a Gov. Asa Hutchinson executive order to develop more outdoor recreation businesses. Secretary of Parks, Heritage & Tourism Stacy Hurst, Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston, and Arkansas Tourism Director Travis Napper recently sat down with TB&P Editor-in-Chief Roby Brock. A partial, lightly edited transcript is below.

Roby Brock: Travis, do you see us in a growth mode coming out of COVID-19 right now or has this latest surge pared some things back?

Travis Napper: It’ll be interesting to see how the numbers play out over the next couple of months because most of our latest numbers are kind of backward looking, dating most recently to May, where we were having a surge in our 2% tourism tax. March, April.

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