Arizona Tourism Industry Predicted To Take $2 Billion Hit In 1st Quarter

By Holliday Moore, Scott Bourque
Published: Friday, May 1, 2020 - 8:10am
Updated: Friday, May 1, 2020 - 2:51pm

Experts predicted Arizona would take a $1.5 billion hit in tourism revenue during the first quarter of the year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But Kim Sabow with the Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association thinks it will be even worse at $2 billion in losses.

It's to the point, she reported, that association members are lining up for government relief to avoid going out of business.

"Many of our hotels have closed altogether, and those that are remaining open are down to single-digit occupancy," said Sabow. "And that's just unsustainable."

More than 300,000 Arizonans are employed directly and indirectly in the hotel and resort industry.

Sabow said more than 40% of them have lost their jobs during the crisis.

According to Sabow, Gov. Doug Ducey’s plans to gradually reopen the economy is a positive step and will help offset some of these losses. She says it gives the industry time to adapt and prepare for a safe reopening.

"There are a few humps that we need to get over, and I think that we’re working very very diligently with the Governor’s Office and our national partners to formulate what this guidance looks like," she said. "Our partners at the National Level, the American Hotel and Lodging Association just released a very comprehensive plan, a holistic plan for guidance."

Hotels nationwide are proposing more frequent deep-cleanings alongside reduced occupancy, staggered staffing and scaled-back amenities to be able to safely reopen in the coming months — something Sabow says is good news.

"I think that as we begin to reopen, obviously having health, safety and wellness at the top of mind, I think that's going to immediately begin to infuse some positivity into our economy," Sabow said. 

EDITOR'S NOTE: The story has been updated to correct the estimated loss of $2 billion is for the first quarter. 

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