Dale Christy, long time director of the Northwest Arkansas Tourism Association was recognized in September for his many years of service with a retirement lunch at the Embassy Suites in Rogers. “Dale was Mr. Tourism when tourism wasn’t cool” stated Ed Clifford Bentonville/Bella Vista Chamber of Commerce CEO. In fact, Christy had been in tourism for most of his life starting with Rogers, moving to Fayetteville for over a decade and ending in his post as Director of NATA.
With the transition, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art opening within sight and tourism identified by the Northwest Arkansas Council as a growth industry, the Northwest Arkansas Tourism Association (NATA) has acted swiftly to redefine its mission, grow membership and launch a Fresh brand and Identity Statement for the region that can be collectively shared by all of its tourism partners. A new website is under development through Sharp Hue out of Fayetteville to serve as the regional authority for such magnets as Crystal Bridges, The Walton Arts Center, Thorncrown Chapel and Razorback Athletics and the pursuit of an executive director is underway. Nata hopes to have both in place by the middle of October. “We see the opening of the Crystal Bridges as an opportunity similar to the bump that the Clinton Library had for Little Rock” stated Warren Jones, NATA Board Chairman “and with that said, we knew our organization was the rightful home to represent the four-county region, host media writers and to create partnerships for regional travel and web promotion.” The Explore Northwest Arkansas brand statement has been developed and approved (ExplorenwAR.com) and THE REGIONAL AUTHORITY website for tourism will be online by October 10th.
NATA’s Executive Committee includes Warren Jones (Arkansas Air Museum) Chairman, Jack Moyer (Crescent Hotel) Vice-Chair, Joe Murfin (Daisy BB Gun) Past-Chair and Allyson Dyer (Rogers CVB) as Treasurer.
“We are getting ready for the next wave of economic development for our region and that wave is tourism. We encourage all city leaders and economic developers to understand that tourism and the arts are not just an amenity to the job creators, in the new economy – we are the job creators.”