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Fri, Feb. 21

The New Yavapai Economy: Tourism as an Element of the Economic Engine

Tourism is without a doubt a major element of any rural economy. As an industry sector, it imports dollars from out of the area into our community. These expenditures flow through the local economy, contributing to revenue generated in retail, recreation, food and accommodation sectors, and further sales tax generation that affords public services. In Arizona, tourism is the top export pulling in $7.7 billion in 2013, followed by Microelectronic exports which generated $7.3 billion, Mining at $6.7 billion, Aerospace at $4.9 billion and finally Agriculture which generated $4.4 billion in exports.

The Arizona Office of Tourism estimates that in 2013, the state welcomed 39.1 million overnight visitors that spent $19.8 billion across the Arizona. This translated into $5.4 billion in employment earnings, 163,500 jobs, and $2.7 billion in state and local tax revenue.

According to the National Restaurant Association's 2015 report, one in ten Americans will be employed in the food sector this year. Arizona is projected as one of the top five states for both sales and employment growth in this sector for 2015.

Yavapai County has multiple communities that have great potential to expand their tourism sectors, and this means more opportunity for small business start-up, retention and expansion.

With this great potential to expand the tourist economy in Yavapai County, though, we must remember that economic diversity is key to building a resilient economy. As much as tourism generates sales tax dollars, so do the other top industry sectors in the county including manufacturing, healthcare, agriculture, and professional, technical and scientific services. These sectors expend money on local labor wages and supplies which then ripple through the economy in household spending, thus generating sales tax for our local community services.

Yavapai County has the capacity to create a resilient, diverse economy that is somewhat resistant to market fluctuations, and tourism is one element that we can develop to ensure we are on the path to self-sufficiency and a sustainable economic base.

Alexandria M. Wright is Director Yavapai College Regional Economic Development Center. The center provides analysis and services that facilitate economic development throughout Yavapai County and build wealth in our local communities.

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