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Arizona Tourism Officials Bracing For Record Year Of Visitors

Published: Monday, April 24, 2017 - 4:10pm

Arizona’s latest jobless figures reflect steep yearly gains in jobs from the state’s leisure and hospitality business. Tourism officials are bracing for what could be a record year of visitors.

There are now nearly a quarter-million Arizonans working in travel and tourism.

While private sector employment as a whole has grown by 2.5 percent, the latest figures from the state’s Office of Economic Opportunity show an 8 percent gain in those industries alone over the past year.

Add to that, numbers from Smith Travel Research showing hotel occupancy rates for Metro Phoenix hotels nearing 90 percent last month, along with room rates skyrocketing.

Arizona Office of Tourism Director Debbie Johnson believes it could be the start of a watershed year for visitors to the state.

“They look really strong right now, and we’re very excited to have this return in strength. Tourism is coming back. People are returning and continuing to grow what they’re willing to pay to visit the Valley,” Johnson said.

A convergence of sporting events, ranging from record attendance for golf’s Waste Management Phoenix Open and baseball spring training, finished with the Valley’s first-ever Final Four, helped drive up the number of visitors to the region in the first quarter.