TAEKWONDO EMBLEM: The H.U. Lee gate at Statehouse Convention Center was installed as a tribute to the annual taekwondo convention that has drawn thousands to Little Rock. It’s moving to Arizona. The photo is from the Little Rock.com website.

At 5 p.m. today, the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau announced the loss of a huge contribution to the city’s convention business: The move of an annual taekwondo event to Arizona in 2021.

Little Rock hopes to retain some taekwondo events. The news release says the Association that sponsors the event will remain headquartered in Arkansas.

The event has been so important to the city that a tribute to it is a feature outside the Statehouse Convention Center.

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The news release:

“We’ve been blessed to have ATA’s largest annual event take place in Little Rock since 1978. The partnership forged between ATA, the City of Little Rock and the LRCVB has been tremendously positive. ATA is a true asset to this community,” said Gretchen Hall, President & CEO of LRCVB. “For their 50th Anniversary in 2019, ATA used every inch of LRCVB’s available space, expanding from the Statehouse Convention Center into Robinson Center. While it’s bittersweet to see the World Expo go, we are happy to say the organization will continue to be headquartered in Little Rock where they host additional national and international physical and business training seminars each year.  We look forward to bringing the World Expo back to Little Rock when we’re able to expand our meeting and convention facilities in the future.”

From its humble beginnings, the World Expo now welcomes over 20,000 people comprised of competitors and instructors along with their families and friends from across the globe. The event has long been Little Rock’s largest annual event.

The 2019 event generated a total estimated economic impact of almost $5 million, according to Destination International’s Event Impact Calculator. The World event has grown in participation and the number of competitions, thus creating a need for additional space. The 2020 World Expo event will be the last held in Little Rock.

“ATA has called Little Rock home since 1977. In 2016, we dedicated our new world headquarters just a few miles from Little Rock’s Statehouse Convention Center in downtown. We simply need more space for the annual World Expo event,” said Neil Morton, CEO of ATA International. “Our goal is to continue to expand our international training seminars at our World Headquarters and, in 2021, ATA is negotiating to relocate its Fall National Tournament from Orlando to Little Rock. Our ties with Little Rock are strong and we will continue to call Arkansas’s capital city home.”

“ATA will leave a notable mark on Little Rock, and our partnership will continue for many years to come. I have sincere gratitude for the legacy thus far and wish them continued success in the future,” Hall concluded.

About Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau

The Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau (LRCVB) is the official destination marketing organization for the City of Little Rock, charged with marketing and selling the city as a meeting, sports and leisure travel destination. The LRCVB also manages Statehouse Convention CenterRobinson CenterRiver Market and multiple parking facilities. LRCVB is primarily funded by a hotel, motel, and restaurant tax. For more information, visit www.LittleRock.com .

About ATA Martial Arts

ATA Martial Arts was founded in 1969 by Eternal Grand Master H.U. Lee and has been internationally headquartered in Little Rock since 1977. The first Grand National Tournament was held in Little Rock in 1978, and the first World Championship was held here in 1990. Active ATA membership is approaching 300,000 worldwide.