Arkansas Welcome Center on Interstate 40 in Van Buren will take part in activities to salute National Travel and Tourism Week.

The welcome center, located near mile marker 3 on Interstate 40 East, will treat travelers to complimentary Arkansas-made products including locally made candies and samples of one of Arkansas’s leading agricultural exports – rice.

In addition, there will be random prize giveaways happening all week, according to Kevin Billings, welcome center manager.

On May 11 at noon, the Van Buren Mayor Bob Freeman and Fort Smith Mayor Sandy Sanders will greet visitors and read an official proclamation announcing Arkansas Tourism Week. Representatives from the advertising and promotion commissions from Van Buren and Fort Smith will select a lucky tourist and present them with a gift basket.

Billings said the interpreter from Lake Fort Smith State Park will be onsite with live snakes to educate travelers about these reptiles and about the unique history and heritage of the Van Buren/Fort Smith area.

By proclamation of Gov. Asa Hutchinson, and in recognition of the positive economic, social, and cultural impact of the travel and tourism industry, Arkansas will celebrate May 7-13 as tourism week.

In 2016, visitors who traveled in Arkansas spent an estimated $7.7 billion, which generated $538 million in state and local taxes, and supported more than 100,000 jobs.