Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort.
Here’s how Ron Price and Visit Phoenix are driving tourism
As Arizona’s events and tourism industry heads into its busy season — highlighted by hosting Super Bowl LVII in February — Az Business talks with Ron Price, president and CEO of Visit Phoenix about what makes the Valley of the Sun such a magnet for visitors.
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Az Business: This year is Visit Phoenix’s 55th anniversary. What should people know about your organization that they might not know?
Ron Price: When you think about Visit Phoenix, we’re the tourism arm of Phoenix as a destination. It’s our role to promote Phoenix and the Greater Phoenix area to visitors and try to attract as many visitors as possible. Tourism is a major industry in the state and rightfully so, with our wonderful hotels, resorts, restaurants, and so forth. It’s our role to get out there and promote that to the rest of the world. And with our great international airport, we are an international destination. With all these incredible events that we host, we’re on the world stage a lot. It’s our job to tell our story and to build as much demand for all of our wonderful partners, restaurants, hotels and attractions as possible.
AB: Arizona is hosting the next Super Bowl and a College Football Playoff game. But we attract a lot of visitors who come here to be active themselves. How important are sports to your industry?
RP: They are so powerful. When you look at the amateur sports world, it’s often recession proof. So when you go through downturns in an economy, that’s the steady base of travelers and visitors coming in for our beautiful backdrop with mountains, the hiking and biking trails, the outdoor activities. We have the ability to attract triathletes and golfers from around the world who want to get out and rejuvenate. It’s something we promote all the time. Then, when you get into professional sports, it’s great to be able to capitalize on that and give ourselves the opportunity to be on the world stage by hosting some of the biggest events like the Super Bowl and Waste Management Phoenix Open. So amateur sports and sports in general are a major part of the tourism economy.
AB: What do you envision for the future of Phoenix’s tourism industry?
RP: If you’ve seen what’s going on in Downtown Phoenix, it’s been remarkable. All the cranes in the air building new facilities and such. I think tourism in Arizona and in the Greater Phoenix area is something to watch out for. People get excited about new hotels or new restaurants coming. And have you seen all the amazing chefs that are relocating to Phoenix? So it gives us a lot to talk about. I get excited because I get the chance to peek under the tent a little bit and see what’s coming down the road. And one of my favorite things to tell people is, “If you’re excited right now, just wait. You haven’t seen anything yet.”