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Arizona Tourism Industry Maintains Vital Economic Impact to State

July 09, 2009

July 9, 2009

Media Contacts:

Kiva Couchon
AOT Communications Manager
(602) 364-3724 Office
(480) 305-3393 Cell


Arizona Tourism Industry Maintains Vital Economic Impact to State

Arizona welcomed 37.4 million visitors in 2008; Visitor spending topped $18.5 billion

PHOENIX (July 9, 2009) – Despite current economic conditions, the tourism industry in Arizona continues to be a significant economic engine for the state, according to statistics released by the Arizona Office of Tourism (AOT) at the annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism, July 9 and 10, 2009. Sherry Henry, AOT director, addressed more than 500 Arizona tourism industry professionals at the opening session of the conference where she announced the positive impact of the travel and tourism industry.

In 2008, Arizona hosted 37.4 million visitors, including 32.4 million domestic and 5 million international travelers. Henry explained that although the combined visitation equates to a net decrease of 3.3 percent or 1.2 million fewer visitors from 38.6 million in 2007, the travel and tourism industry is resilient and continues to generate billions of dollars for the state’s economy.

“Arizona’s visitor spending brought in $18.5 billion in direct travel expenditures in 2008, underscoring the fact that the travel and tourism industry is a major economic driver for our economy,” said Henry. “In the wake of our current economic situation, our industry brings revenue into the state that supports the quality of life of all Arizona residents.”

Last year, visitor spending generated $2.6 billion in local, state and federal tax revenues. Furthermore, the tourism industry is critical to both job creation and revenue generation for the Grand Canyon State, supporting nearly 170,000 jobs and generating $5 billion in direct earnings.

During the conference, AOT provided detailed travel industry research including:

  • Residents from Arizona and visitors from California continue to be the top visitor to the state followed by Texas, Nevada, New Mexico, Washington, New York, Illinois, Colorado and Florida. These top ten markets produce 77 percent of Arizona’s visitors.
  • In 2007, the tourism industry was the top export industry for Arizona. Following the tourism industry was micro-electronics, aerospace, mining, and agriculture.
  • Arizona had five million international visitors travel to the state in 2008 – 77 percent from Mexico, 13 percent from overseas and 10 percent from Canada.

Additionally, Henry unveiled a new marketing campaign for Arizona. Developed in partnership with the Phoenix-based Moses Anshell Advertising Agency, the new “free to be” campaign features breathtaking statewide scenic images and messaging encouraging visitors to feel “free to be awed, inspired and bold” when visiting the Grand Canyon State. The campaign will include print and broadcast media as well as aggressively supported by social media tactics such as Facebook, Twitter and Flickr.

Henry also stated that although the current economic conditions are quite challenging the industry is working closely together to find solutions and opportunities to support the industry.

“From building non-traditional partnerships, utilizing cost-efficient public relations tactics and launching creative marketing campaigns our tourism industry will prevail and remain steadfast as an economic driver for the state,” said Henry.

According to Henry, unlike other industries, taxes generated by travel industry spending are paid by visitors rather than residents. These visitors bring new money to Arizona’s economy and generate revenue in all 15 counties, validating the economic importance that the travel and tourism industry has across the entire Grand Canyon State.

Plans for Arizona Centennial Celebration were also announced. Planning has already begun with events culminating on February 14, 2012, Arizona’s official centennial anniversary. The Arizona Office of Tourism will have a vital role in helping communities create Centennial activities and promotions for one of Arizona’s most significant milestone.

Access to visitation and economic impact data for the Arizona travel industry can be found in the “Research & Statistics” section of

About AOT
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 States travel industry and related businesses, the traveling public, and the taxpayers of Arizona. For more information, visit

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