A record number of tourists flocked to Arizona in 2017 according to experts in the industry. Not only did the tourists arrive, but they also spent record numbers of dollars, helping to give a boost to the local economy. Area hotels, motels, stores, eateries, attractions, historical sites and other places saw their sales go up thanks to the high number of visitors.
The boom in tourists is attributed to a strong economy, inexpensive gas prices, increased international air routes and an active marketing campaign intended to persuade tourists to choose Arizona as their vacation destination.
Domestically, the state focuses on luring visitors from Chicago, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Seattle and New York. Internationally, while British Airways and Condor Airlines recently expanded the number of flights connecting Europe with Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, more direct and connecting flights with better connections are still needed to help Arizona reach its full international tourism potential.
In 2017, of the 43.9 million overnight stays made by tourists, officials estimate that Americans accounted for 38.3 million of those stays while foreigners accounted for the remainder. Foreign visitors are particularly desirable as they tend to stay longer and spend more. Tourists collectively spent $22.7 billion during their stays.
The Arizona Office of Tourism has seen the number of visitors steadily increase since the recession in 2008. The visitor count does not include guests lodging in private homes, whether with friends or family or via Airbnb or home exchange programs.
Sporting events are a big hit among tourists with many fans attending Cactus League baseball, the Waste Management Phoenix Open golf tournament and NASCAR racing each year. Large scale events such as the Super Bowl and the Final Four which are slated to be held in the state in 2023 and 2024 are expected to bring in major revenue. Sporting events also boost awareness of the state’s many other attractions to visitors who would probably have not visited on their own. These fans are then more likely to return to see what else the state has to offer.
Tourists also come to Arizona to visit luxury spas and resorts, ranches, historical sights, the Grand Canyon and other attractions. Others who are keen on seeing firsthand the breathtaking scenery, natural sights and local culture on guided tours like those offered by Monument Valley Safari, make regular visit to the state as well.
A pressing challenge is that many hotels, restaurants and other businesses are unable to find enough employees to keep up with the steady and high demand of visitors. Arizona has already initiated two wage hikes recently in an effort to ease the problem, but worker shortages remain a threat to profitability.