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43 million tourists spent $22 billion in Arizona last year, research finds

(Instagram/@thefronske via Facebook/Visit Arizona)

PHOENIX — More people visited Arizona last year than ever before and spent record amounts of money, according to research released Wednesday by the Arizona Office of Tourism.

The state saw 43.9 million overnight visitors in 2017. Those visitors collectively spent $22.7 billion during their stays, which works out to $62 million in tourism spending per day.

“To put that into perspective, that is more than Arizona’s population in terms of visitor volume and the spending breaks down to about $43,000 per minute,” Scott Dunn with the Arizona Office of Tourism told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

The Arizona Office of Tourism has seen the number of visitors steadily increase since the recession in 2008.

“This year-over-year increase in visitor spending is now at seven percent,” Dunn added. “It is the highest Arizona has seen in more than a decade.”

According to the Office of Tourism’s annual research, visitor spending supported 187,000 jobs in the state in 2017. Those tourism-related jobs generated $6.9 billion in employment revenue and $3.4 billion in tax revenue.

“Nearly $2 billion in those taxes are state and local taxes,” Dunn said.

“Those are the taxes that really improve our quality of life — benefiting infrastructure, paying the salaries of teachers and police officers, supporting parks, youth sports and the upkeep of Spring Training facilities.”

Sports continually play a vital role with tourism in Arizona.

“It is a boom for Arizona, especially mega-sporting events like the Super Bowl and the Final Four,” Dunn said.

The Arizona Office of Tourism believes it is in their D.N.A. to host these events successfully year after year.

When the Valley brings in visitors for sporting events, it allows Arizona to showcase the state to tourists who don’t usually get to see it.

“The 2017 NCAA Final Four tournament brought in tourists from Colombia and South Carolina, which is not one of our top markets. It opens the door to visitors we might not get to market to in the course of our normal marketing,” Dunn said.

“People who don’t live here are making things better for those who do,” Dunn added.

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