Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort.

State tax revenues from Arizona tourism hits record $1B

The amount of money spent because of Arizona tourism by Grand Canyon gawkers, spring training fans, winter escapists and other visitors from around the world reached a record high last year, according to new research released Monday by the Arizona Office of Tourism. 

Travelers to Arizona spent $24.4 billion in 2018—that’s $67 million per day and 8% more than the previous record for visitor spending in Arizona, set in 2017. 

As a result, state-tax revenues generated by visitor spending reached the $1 billion mark for the first time. 

“Tourism continues to thrive in Arizona, and that benefits every resident in every part of the state,” Arizona Governor Doug Ducey said. “Not only does this $24 billion industry provide more opportunities for small business and more for jobs for Arizonans, tourism revenues generate more dollars to invest in the things that matter most to Arizonans, like education and public safety.” 

According to jobs data released by the Arizona Office of Tourism, visitor spending directly supported 192,300 jobs in the state in 2018. Those jobs accounted for $7.4 billion in earnings by Arizona workers. 

In total, 45.4 million overnight visitors experienced Arizona as a travel destination in 2018. That’s also a new record, eclipsing the 43.9 million travelers who came to Arizona the previous year. 

“That’s like importing the entire populations of Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Montana and Wyoming into our state over the course of a year,” said Debbie Johnson, the director of the Arizona Office of Tourism. “Obviously, that has a tremendously positive impact on local economies across Arizona.”

City and county tax revenues generated by tourism increased 17% over the previous fiscal year, to a record total of $1.1 billion. 

Johnson pointed out that the tax revenue generated by visitor spending in 2018 lessened the tax burden of the average Arizona household by $1,360. 

“It’s a simple fact of living in a state where tourism is the No. 1 export industry: Visitors help keep our taxes lower,” she said.

The Office of Tourism’s new research was announced at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Tucson, where leaders from the state’s travel and hospitality industry are gathering this week for their annual professional-development conference. 

Other noteworthy data from 2018:

• Arizona welcomed 5.8 million international overnight visitors, a 4% increase over the previous year.

• Visitor volume increased from both of the state’s top international markets, Mexico (3.7 million overnight visitors) and Canada (962,000 overnight visitors).

• Germany was Arizona’s top source of European visitors.

• After eight years of strong growth, visitor volume from China declined nearly 4%.

• Among international markets, the biggest year-over-year growth in visitor volume came from Australia (15%).

• California remained Arizona’s top source of domestic visitors, but Texas had the biggest year-over-year growth in visitors (24%).   

This research was performed by Dean Runyan Associates, Longwoods International and Tourism Economics. Summaries will be posted online at tourism.az.gov following the 2019 Governor’s Conference of Tourism, which continues through July 24.