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Arizona Tourism Industry Announces Annual Visitation and Economic Impact to State’s Economy

July 15, 2010

Arizona welcomed 35.3 million visitors in 2009; Visitor spending topped $16.6 billion

The Arizona Office of Tourism has announced that 35.3 million domestic and international overnight travelers visited Arizona in 2009, spending $16.6 billion throughout the Grand Canyon State. Industry statistics were released by the Arizona Office of Tourism (AOT) at the 30th Annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Tucson.

Additionally, according to travel industry research conducted by Dean Runyan Associates, spending by travelers in 2009 directly generated:

  • $2.4 billion in local, state and federal tax revenues, which equates to $1,008 per Arizona household.
  • 157,000 travel industry-related jobs. In addition, the secondary employment combined with the direct employment reveals that the travel and tourism industry impacted more than 290,000 jobs in 2009. This represents more than 10% of all jobs within Arizona.

Among the economic impact statistics, the research data also continues to support the fact that the travel and tourism industry is the only export-oriented industry in the state generating revenue in all 15 Arizona counties. Unlike any other export industry, travel industry earnings are spread through the entire state exerting a stabilizing and diversifying effect on Arizona’s economy.

Although, Arizona experienced a 10.2 percent decline in travel spending from 2008, this was an expected decline. This industry has been challenged by many of today’s current issues, such as the condition of the national economy, the negative perception of hosting business meetings or conventions at resorts and the HINI virus. Furthermore, in comparison to travel to the United States, industry research found that the world wide recession had a profound effect on the travel industry. A number of factors have been especially important with response to the Arizona travel industry:

  • Arizona (as well as other western states) is more dependent on air travel that other regions of the country. The contraction of capacity by the air carriers has in and of itself reduced travel to Arizona. 
  • The economic recession and housing crash have been more severe in Arizona and southern California that other regions of the country. 
  • The contraction in visitation and related economic impacts began to affect Arizona earlier than the U.S. in general. The decline in employment in the state has consequently been greater, as changes in employment typically lag consumer spending and business revenue.

“We expected this type of decline after the challenges our industry experience in 2009,” said Sherry Henry, director of the Arizona Office of Tourism. “However, these are issues that we are overcoming. We are a stronger industry for having to overcome these issues and we’re looking forward to implementing this year’s marketing plan that will entice visitors to Arizona who contribute to our state’s overall economic vitality.”

To an audience of more than 350 industry professionals, Henry announced the Office of Tourism marketing plans for the forthcoming fiscal year. AOT continues to have a research-driven marketing program that will be supported by public relations activities and social media efforts, as well as paid media and trade relations efforts. The state’s marketing agency will also continue to work to increase community outreach efforts, visitor services options and Native American offerings to support and help develop the amazing tourism products found throughout Arizona.

“Moving forward, the team at AOT is still committed to our statewide partners and remains focused on projects that best promote the great state of Arizona,” Henry continued.

The conference, held July 12 – 14, was sponsored by AOT, the Arizona Hotel & Lodging Association, the Arizona Restaurant Association and the Arizona Tourism Alliance.

About the Arizona Office of Tourism
Created as an executive agency in 1975, the Arizona Office of Tourism is charged with enhancing the state economy and the quality of life for all Arizonans by expanding travel activity and increasing related revenues through tourism promotion and development. AOT works to serve the Grand Canyon State’s travel industry and related businesses, the traveling public, and the taxpayers of Arizona.


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