This summer’s record temperatures did not keep visitors from traveling to Arizona to enjoy the many attractions the state has to offer. In fact, quite the opposite is true – tourism in Arizona from July through September actually reach a decade high with 10 million tourists making their way to the Grand Canyon State.
These figures may seem surprising since when thinking about Arizona, many people only conjure images of the hot sun, cactuses and desert. Arizona simply does not cross their minds as a summer tourist destination. But the numbers are proving that this is no longer the situation on the ground. The state’s tourist department has actively been working to change consumers’ perceptions.
A six-week digital advertising campaign that ran from June 1 through Aug. 17 and which was launched by the Arizona Office of Tourism to increase visitation revenue over the summer, raised more than $1.5 million solely in hotel visits. The campaign also led to 182,584 online flight searches for Arizona. In addition, the ads led to 7,073 hotel bookings and 7,991 flight bookings.
The digital campaign was bolstered by radio spots in the Tucson, Phoenix, and Flagstaff areas as well as baggage claim advertisements in the state’s major airports. Notably, the successful campaign led to bookings outside the usual top tourist draws of Flagstaff and Sedona to include bookings in Tucson, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Chandler, Mesa, Prescott and Yuma.
For Arizona, keeping the tourists coming is essential as the industry brings in big business for the state. Last year, 43.9 million visitors to Arizona spent a record $23 billion, generating $3.4 billion in tax revenue. The boom in tourists is attributed to a strong economy, inexpensive gas prices, the active marketing campaign, and increased international air routes. Internationally, British Airways and Condor Airlines recently expanded the number of flights connecting Europe with Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Multiple airlines also announced that new flights will begin in the fall, including American Airlines and Swoop Airlines.
While tourists visit Arizona for various reasons, one main draw is the opportunity to engage in and enjoy outdoor travel, guided tours, as well as leisure activities anchored in nature. Tourists relish Arizona’s beautiful rugged scenery, the warm and sunny weather all year round, and the chance to experience a wide variety of activities from relaxing at a luxury spa and resort, to riding horses on ranches, to visiting major historical sights, to going off the beaten path with the help of personal guides.
An ongoing challenge for the state is keeping up with the rising numbers of visitors. Many hotels, restaurants and other businesses are unable to find sufficient employees to meet the steady and high demand, especially in the summer when the number of tourists is unprecedented. Arizona has already initiated two wage hikes in an effort to ease the problem, but worker shortages remain a threat to profitability.