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The Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism says the primary function of its 13 Welcome Centers is “to provide Arkansas travelers with information on scenic, historic, and recreational points of interest within the state, presenting the positive first impression of Arkansas that is so critical in persuading guests to stay longer and discover new attractions.” The first "tourist information center" opened in Corning in 1968. In 2002, the Department of Parks and Tourism announced its upgrading of the the "Welcome Centers," choosing three of the older facilities, including Corning, for repair and improvements for roughly $7 million. Now, Corning's, in Clay County, is one of nine new Welcome Centers to be rebuilt. When it was a tourist information center, the center welcomed about 9,000 visitors annually, It now serves more than 50,000 visitors a year.