Arizona visitor spending down $10 billion through September

Above: JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa. Business News | 2 Nov, 2020 |

Spending by Arizona visitors reached $9.3 billion for Jan. – Sept. 2020, which is down $10 billion (or 52%) so far through the same time period in 2019. Travel spending had started 2020 on another record pace in January and February, before plummeting in March and April due to the pandemic. It then increased slightly in May and June, but that growth plateaued over the summer. Should this plateau continue, monthly spending losses are expected to grow as Arizona enters the fall transitional tourism season.

For the month, Arizona visitors spent $752 million in September 2020, down 60% from the $1.9 billion which would have likely been spent under normal circumstances. That spending supported approximately 87,000 hospitality industry jobs, which is 105,800 fewer jobs (-55%) supported than last September according to the Arizona Office of Tourism’s most recent Monthly Tourism report, which covers September 2020.

“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,” said Debbie Johnson, director of the Arizona Office of Tourism. “People really want to take vacations and we’re making sure they know that Arizona offers great options for every traveler’s comfort level.”

Additional insights from the September 2020 Monthly Tourism report:

Sept. 2020 vs. Sept. 2019 

Travel spending: $752 million, down $1.1 billion (60%)

Jobs supported by travel spending: 87,000, down 105,800 (55%)

State tax revenue generated by travel spending: $32.2 million, down $44 million (58%)

Statewide hotel occupancy: 51.5%, down 20% (13.2 percentage points)

Jan. – Sept. ’20 vs. Jan. – Sept. ’19

Travel spending: $9.3 billion, down $10 billion (52%)

State Tax revenue generated by travel spending: $389 million, down $405 million (51%)

Statewide hotel occupancy: 49.9%, down 28% (19.6 percentage points)

Hotel revenue: $1.7 billion, down $1.05 billion (38%)

County-level lodging Insights Sept. 2020 vs. Sept. 2019

Yuma County led all Arizona counties by posting a 27.5% increase in lodging occupancy in Sept. 2020 over Sept. 2019. Gila (+23%), La Paz (+14.6%), Pinal (+8.8%), Cochise (+7.4%) and Mohave (+6.1%) counties all experienced increases in Sept. 2020 versus last year, while Graham (-35%), Coconino (-29.5%) and Maricopa (-26.2%) counties saw the largest month-over-month decreases.

Prior to the pandemic, 2020 visitor spending in Arizona was already outpacing 2019, which was Arizona’s best year ever for tourism and the fourth year in a row of record-setting visitation, visitor spending, tax revenue and jobs supported. The 2019 metrics highlight the importance of tourism as a key driver of the economy, employer of Arizonans and supporter of services relied upon by all Arizonans.

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