Originally Published: December 18, 2011 10 p.m.
Believing that the state is pulling out of its financial doldrums, Gov. Jan Brewer wants to give Arizona touraism a shot in the arm with a $7 million package she plans to put in her budget proposal for 2013.
If her proposal ends up in the final budget for fiscal 2012-13, it will allow the Arizona Office of Tourism to broaden its horizons in promoting the state as a national and international destination and further build Arizona's brand of Southwestern hospitality, a news release from the governor's office states.
With this financing in hand, the Office of Tourism would work with public/private partnerships to showcase travel destinations outside the greater Phoenix area, and that's good news for the smaller urban areas and rural communities that have much to offer visitors.
In 2010, statistics show that 37 million domestic and international overnight travelers came to Arizona and spent $17.7 billion. The Arizona Office of Tourism calculated for that year that direct traveler spending contributed $48 million daily to the state's economy.
Job creation and economic growth are direct beneficiaries of a robust tourism industry, the governor's release notes, because in 2010, Arizona had 150,000 tourism-related jobs directly linked to travelers to Arizona. Indirectly, traveler spending benefits retailers and restaurants at the same time.
According to a study conducted by Northern Arizona University in 2009 at the behest of the Arizona Office of Tourism, visitors to the Prescott area spent $196.7 million in direct expenditures, resulting in an indirect impact of $40 million, and an induced (changes in household income) effect of $58 million. This adds up to a total economic impact of $295 million for 2009.
Albeit, that was three years ago, and since then, Arizona's economy has tanked, but now the sun appears to be emerging from the clouds once again.
In July, the City of Prescott's Office of Tourism reported that bed tax revenue - "transient lodging" revenue - a strong indicator of visitor spending, increased in fiscal year 2011 by 9.47 percent over the previous year.
Without question, Arizona needs to look beyond tourism to augment its economic base. But, truth be told, this industry is the long suit for both Arizona and Prescott.
If Brewer succeeds in sweetening the state coffers for tourism, we urge Prescott's city fathers to get in line now.
Prescott is an easy sell for a big hunk of the money.