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Officials tout economic growth during Arizona Travel and Tourism Week

In this Aug. 2, 2015, file photo, tourists Joseph Lin, Ning Chao, center, and Linda Wang, left, pose for a selfie along the south rim at Grand Canyon National Park, Ariz. (Emery Cowan/Arizona Daily Sun via AP)

PHOENIX — The tourism industry in Arizona has generated more than $20 billion each year, state tourism officials said as Arizona Travel and Tourism Week kicked off on Monday.

Stephanie Dowling, executive director of the Arizona Office of Tourism, said the tourism industry is one of Arizona’s “strongest economic pillars.”

The tourism industry employs 180,000 Arizonans and generates over $20 billion in annual revenue, a majority of which was spent on lodging and food in 2015.

“We see over 42 million visitors a year. That equals over $20 billion dollars in visitor spending,” Dowling said. “Fifty-eight million dollars a day, forty-thousand dollars a minute.”

“Tourism may be fun, but it’s serious business,” she said.

In February, the state Office of Tourism launched an effort to encourage Arizonans to take more vacation time in order to boost the economy.

The most recent effort by Arizona Office of Tourism to draw visitors to the state was advertising Arizona as a “foodie destination” with its new website.

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