The beginning of June marks the changing of seasons in Scottsdale! The signs are everywhere…fewer cars on the road, reservations at favorite restaurants become easier and resorts begin advertising bargain rates for staycations. In the summertime, once we’ve gathered the bounty from our winter visitors, we have the city virtually to ourselves.
The seasonal changes remind us tourism is the most important foundation of our city’s economy. Tourist demand for good restaurants underwrites the culinary reputation of our city. Tourist retail spending supports our cachet as a shopping mecca. Tourist patronage extends to our golf courses, our Sonoran Desert Preserve, our cactus league stadium, even our libraries and recreation centers.
The new marketing campaign of Experience Scottsdale is now enticing off-season visitors to come to Scottsdale in the summer with a bold theme “It’s That Hot!”
In 2017, Scottsdale entertained 8.8 million visitors, almost equally divided between overnight and day-trip visitors who travelled more than fifty miles. If we included snow-birds and visitors travelling fewer than fifty miles, the number would be higher still!
How important is our tourism industry? Overnight guests staying in Scottsdale hotels last year spent almost $400 million on lodging and another estimated $500 million at restaurants, retail and recreation locations. All that spending generated upwards of $15 million to our local sales tax revenues. On top of that, the “bed tax” surcharge generated another $19 million. That’s money local citizens don’t have to pay for government services, preserve land improvements and attractions like Scottsdale’s Museum of the West.
Last Thursday night, Diana and I took time to visit what is, arguably, our #1 tourist attraction. It’s not in a glitzy high-rise; in fact, its buildings are among the oldest in the city. It’s not a special weekend event; this tourist attraction is open all year. This attraction is our downtown treasure…Old Town Scottsdale! Sometimes the things most familiar are the things most taken for granted.
While visiting a few of the art galleries and jewelers on this art-walk evening, we met a couple from New Jersey. They were staying at the Biltmore in Phoenix but had taken an Uber to come tour Old Town Scottsdale. After we gave them directions to the Italian restaurant they were trying to find, they said they intended to return on Friday to visit the Scottsdale’s Museum of the West. I wonder…if the new marketing campaigns begin to pay off and we entice more tourists to visit in the off-season, will they also discover what makes Scottsdale a year-round “hot” destination?
Sometimes we don’t appreciate all the benefits of living in a tourist community. Besides the economic benefits, we enjoy the excitement of special events drawn to our city…auto auctions, horse shows, arts festivals and spring training – to name a few. We enjoy ever-changing exhibits in the art galleries and the rotation of flowers at hotels and resorts. Mostly, we benefit from the energy, enthusiasm and vibrancy our visitors bring.
It is important to foster and protect our tourism industry…not just for the tourists, but for ourselves!