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Arizona tourism spending remains down due to coronavirus

(Facebook Photo/Arizona Tourism Office)

PHOENIX — The coronavirus pandemic continues to have a negative effect on Arizona’s economy as the state’s office of tourism reported Friday that spending by visitors for the year is down by $10 billion compared to 2019.

Arizona visitors have spent $9.3 billion through September, according to a press release, grinding to a halt in March due to the coronavirus pandemic after beginning 2020 on a record pace.

The lack of visitor spending has also resulted in a decrease of $405 million in state tax generated by travel spending when compared with January through September of 2019.

Spending by visitors in Arizona increased slightly in May and June, according to the release, but then plateaued over the summer as the state became a hotspot for the virus.

Numbers continued to dip in September, with visitor spending down 60% from the likely $1.9 billion under normal circumstances.

Monthly spending losses are expected to grow should the plateau continue as Arizona enters the fall transitional tourism season.

“This confirms that building visitor confidence through guidance, visible masking and sanitization protocols and controlling the spread of the virus is critical to recovery for Arizona’s tourism industry,” Debbie Johnson, director of the Arizona Office of Tourism, said in the release.

“People really want to take vacations and we’re making sure they know that Arizona offers great options for every traveler’s comfort level.”

The spending in September supported around 87,000 hospitality jobs, but was still less than the nearly 106,000 supported last year.

Hotel revenue is also down $1.05 billion when compared with 2019, according to the release, as occupancy statewide tumbled 28% from last year.

Lodging occupancy in the counties of Yuma, Gila, La Paz, Pinal, Cochise and Mohave all increased last month when compared with September 2019, however, Graham, Coconino and Maricopa each saw decreases.

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