Charles Snapp of Walnut Ridge has been presented this year’s Tom Biggs Award for outstanding service to tourism by the Ozark Gateway Region. The regional tourism council presented awards during its annual meeting Tuesday, May 6th, which coincided with the grand opening of the group’s new offices in Batesville.

The Biggs Award is the highest honor presented by the Ozark Gateway Region each year. Snapp has been at the forefront of tourism development in Lawrence County, spearheading construction of Beatles Park and the Guitar Walk in downtown Walnut Ridge.

Richard Davies, executive director of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, was the keynote speaker for the annual meeting, and he presented eye-popping figures on the economic impact of tourism in the region.

Davies said the Ozark Gateway Region, which covers eight counties in north central and northeast Arkansas, brought in 936,000 visitors and a whopping $227 million in tourism spending last year, according to figures compiled by his department.

The numbers show that Lawrence County received $14.2 million in tourism expenditures from 59,000 visitors in 2013. The county had 131 tourism related jobs, resulting in $2.1 million in payroll. Visitors to Lawrence County also added approximately $318,000 to local sales tax coffers.

The Ozark Gateway Region covers Fulton, Independence, Izard, Jackson, Lawrence, Randolph, Sharp and Stone Counties in Arkansas. Ozark Gateway’s new headquarters and tourist information center are located in the former WRD Entertainment building along Highway 167 in south Batesville.

Photo Attached (left to right): Richard Davies, executive director of the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism; Charles Snapp; Cathy Drew, executive director of the Ozark Gateway Region; and Adam Davis, board chair of the Ozark Gateway Region.