Tourism Classics Still Relevant As Arizona Attracts More Mega Events

Published: Friday, February 24, 2017 - 6:55am
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The Arizona Golf Associations says 1 million visitors hit the courses in our state every year.
(Photo by Christina Estes - KJZZ)
Ed Gowan with the Arizona Golf Association participates in a tourism roundtable hosted by the Phoenix Business Journal.

From Super Bowls to College National Championships, Arizona has hosted several mega football events. Next month, the Valley will tackle basketball when it hosts its first NCAA Men’s Final Four. While attracting new events is important to the tourism industry, legacy attractions remain just as relevant.

When talking tourism it can sometimes sound like a broken record: sunshine, golf and spas. But, that tune attracts visitors – more than 40 million in 2015, said Stephanie Dowling with the Arizona Office of Tourism. 

“We had $21 billion in visitor spending,” she said. “You know what makes that so significant is that’s $3 billion in tax revenues. That’s from federal, state and local taxes.”

During a recent roundtable hosted by the "Phoenix Business Journal," tourism leaders discussed the strength of legacy offerings.

In 2015, hotel spa revenue grew faster than food and rooms. According to CBRE Hotels, spa revenue increased 5.6 percent from 2014 to 2015 compared to 3.3 percent increase in room revenue.

And, don’t discount golf, said Ed Gowan with the Arizona Golf Association, “Our volume is flat, but there’s more money per person being spent, which to us says there’s a real solid underpinning that’s going to foreshadow new growth.”  

Experience Scottsdale, the city’s tourism group, is currently researching the industry’s impact on economic development. They hope to quantify how many people who visit spas, golf courses and other attractions end up moving or expanding their businesses here.