As summer vacation beckons, Arizona hotels and the hospitality industry are going “above and beyond” to protect travelers from the coronavirus, said the head of the Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association (AzLTA).

AzLTA has launched a new program to certify member hotels, casinos, resorts and attractions that undertake an exhaustive checklist of cleanliness and safety measures, said Kim Sabow, AzLTA president and CEO.

More than 20 locations statewide now are certified through the program –  called AZSAFE+CLEAN – with more to come, Sabow told Chamber Business News.

“Health and safety standards are foundational for us anyways, so we’re going above and beyond that as an industry that prides itself and builds itself on consumer cleanliness and well being,” she said.

The AZSAFE+CLEAN certification checklist provides protocols including requiring staff to wear personal protective equipment, frequent sanitizing of public areas and rooms, and posting signs and floor markings in guest and employee areas for social distancing.

Reviving a fractured industry 

While most hotels already are taking extra precautions during the pandemic, this is another tool to restore consumer confidence, Sabow said.

“We’re a resilient industry that is facing this head-on, and this new campaign is an initiative to begin to restore that consumer confidence that is so critical in these unprecedented times.”

AzLTA hotels and resorts who receive the certification can display the AZSAFE+CLEAN certificate on their websites and at their properties. As properties become certified, they are placed on a list on the website at:

Multi-billion dollar revenues disappear “overnight”

Before COVID-19, the Arizona Office of Tourism was logging record revenues for the industry. In 2018, 45.5 million visitors spent $24.4 billion in the state. That generated  $3.63 billion in tax revenues, resulting in an annual tax savings of $1,360 for every Arizona household.

That all changed when the pandemic hit in March at the height of travel season with spring break, spring training and visitors flying in from across the globe.

“Normally, our occupancy rates would be in the 80 percent range, but those numbers dropped to single digits virtually overnight,” Sabow said. “It was a deep, swift, blunt-force trauma.”

And while hotels were allowed to stay open as essential businesses, few visitors were arriving at their front lobbies, she said.

“Although hotels were never mandated to be closed, we didn’t have the amenities to sell with the room. It’s kind of difficult to sell a room if you don’t have dining or a pool or a spa or a gym to enjoy.”

When Gov. Doug Ducey eased shutdown restrictions to allow pools, fitness centers and limited inside dining to open back up last month, some properties saw occupancy jump to the 30 percent range over Memorial Day weekend, Sabow said.

“The easing of that guidance was a nice shot in the arm for this industry that so desperately needed it.”

Arizona’s certification program is in partnership and modeled after the American Hotel and Lodging Association’s Safe Stay initiative that builds upon sanitation best practices and recommendations from national hospitality and public health experts.

For more information about Arizona’s program, go to: AzSAFE+CLEAN.

More than 20 Arizona locations AzSAFE+CLEAN certified 

Arizona Grand Resort & Spa

Audio Visual Management Solutions

Castle Hot Springs

DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Phoenix

Four Points by Sheraton at Phoenix Mesa Gateway Airport

Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch Resort

The Hermosa Inn

Hotel Congress

Hotel Valley Ho

Mountain Shadows Resort Scottsdale

OdySea Aquarium

Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia

Omni Tucson National Resort

Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa

Scottsdale Camelback Resort

Sedona Rouge Hotel and Spa

The Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch

The Phoenician

W Scottsdale

We-Ko-Pa Casino Resort

Westgate Painted Mountain Golf Resort


This story was originally published at Chamber Business News.