Tourism promotion

Ark Tank, part of the Governor's Conference on Tourism, welcomes people to pitch their proposals to build travel to Arkansas.

Arkansas Tourism, in partnership with Innovate Arkansas, is accepting applications for “Ark Tank,” a business pitch competition to be held on Monday, March 2, at the Fort Smith Convention Center.

The event will be part of the 2020 Arkansas Governor's Conference on Tourism.

In its second year, the competition is open to new and existing tourism businesses that have an idea, project or product to develop.

The pitch competition winner will walk away with a cash prize of $5,000, a guarantee for mentorship from professionals in the field related to the winning business idea, and ongoing advisement with Arkansas Tourism Research and Development.

Applications are due by January 10, 2020.

“Innovation and creativity are key to continued success, and this competition allows Arkansas tourism businesses the opportunity to grow and learn as they develop new ideas,” said Arkansas Tourism Director Jim Dailey. “Ark Tank is a highlight of our annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism and we can’t wait to see the projects that will be presented this year.”

“Last year’s Ark Tank competition introduced the startup spirit to a foundational industry in our state’s economy and we were excited by the energy we saw in the room of tourism professionals,” said David Sanders, director of Innovate Arkansas at Winrock International.

“Winrock and Innovate Arkansas’s team is dedicated to helping startup founders grow their businesses in Arkansas. We are excited to partner with Arkansas Tourism again this year to help find and support innovative ideas for tourism-based businesses.”

Startup or existing businesses that are related to tourism in Arkansas will be considered for the Ark Tank competition. For purposes of this competition, a tourism-related business is defined as one that directly interacts with tourists, deals with businesses that cater to tourists, encourages tourism in and travel to Arkansas, and/or supports tourism-related activities in Arkansas.

Proposed applicant projects must promote tourism or be associated with a tourism or hospitality entity in Arkansas that offers an experience, location, attraction or travel planning assistance to potential visitors from both inside and outside the state.

The application process consists of three phases, which Arkansas Tourism will implement in partnership with Innovate Arkansas. The first phase is the online application that must be completed by January 10, 2020. Applicants selected for the second phase will be contacted by January 24, 2020, and will be asked to complete a “lean canvas” for the business model. Finalists selected for the third phase, the pitch competition, will be notified by February 7, 2020.

The competition will be streamed live, with audience members able to text their vote for a winner after the competition. An audience favorite winner will be announced at the same time as the grand prize judges’ winner is announced.

CLICK HERE to apply for the Ark Tank competition.

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