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Tourism group paying Arizonans to vacation in Mesa

(Facebook/Visit Mesa)

PHOENIX — A Mesa tourism group is paying Arizona residents $150 to vacation in the East Valley city.

Escape to Mesa is a vacation package designed to get residents to explore their own backyard.

Arizonans can qualify if they book two nights at Mesa hotels. Then, they can go rafting, dining or spend a day at a spa with $150 in certificates they’ll receive after check-in.

“We’re reaching Arizona residents to just head outside and explore close to home,” said Michelle Streeter, senior vice president for communications at Visit Mesa.

She hopes Escape to Mesa will show consumers they can have a quick, safe and socially distanced getaway during the pandemic.

“Fall break is when people can consider taking their kids out and do some of these activities on the Lower Salt River or take in an attraction,” Streeter said.

More importantly, Streeter hopes the promotion will revive the tourism economy that coronavirus crushed.

“Small business is open for business,” Streeter said. “We’ve changed some of the formula of how we get their services, whether it be by appointment only or take-out or curbside.”

Hotels have adopted the Mesa Clean Stay program, as well as their own sanitization programs to stop COVID-19, including touchless entry and sealed rooms until guests arrive.

Mesa’s Sheraton Hotel at Wrigleyville West has started hiring back some of the people laid off during the pandemic.

“Our staff members make our guests happy, and if we don’t have happy guests, we don’t have jobs,” general manager Chuck Barron said.

“We got into this industry because we enjoy people. To not have people around is extremely sad and frustrating.”

Barron’s hotel usually accommodates conferences and conventions, but their crowds are gone by the wayside, for now.

Barron hopes the program will help attract families.

“People who don’t have pools in their own backyard come here so they can get some work done and the kids could swim in the pool,” he said. “Mom and dad will trade off and let the kids swim in the pool when the other is getting some work done.”

Barron and Streeter say all of the “staycation” amenities in their packages have room for social distancing.

Arizona open and hiring: If you’re looking for job openings, visit ktar.com/arizonahiring.

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