Arizona Tourism

Market Update

Debbie Johnson

Debbie Johnson
Director, Arizona Office of Tourism


Tourism is an opportunity to present the best of what we have to offer others: our hospitality, unique natural surroundings, accommodations, attractions, restaurants, and shops. We are fortunate to live in a state that offers such a variety of activities and places to experience. Tourism also serves as one of our state’s strongest economic engines. Which is why, for this reason alone, this industry is extremely valuable and important to our state’s economy.

For Arizona, promoting our state as a vibrant travel destination sets off a positive economic cycle of activity which includes increased visitation, greater traveler spending in Arizona’s urban and rural communities, potential commerce opportunities, faster job creation, and higher tax revenues, all of which contribute to Arizona’s economic growth and infrastructure development.

In 2015, Arizona’s travel and tourism industry generated $21 billion in direct visitor-related spending, a 1.3 percent increase over 2014. This is the most spending generated by visitation in our state’s tourism history. This spending supported more than 179,500 industry-related jobs for Arizonans, which represents an additional 6,900 jobs, an increase of 4.0 percent over 2014. Those residents employed by these travel-related jobs earned more than $6.2 billion, a 6.7 percent increase over 2014.

Furthermore, this industry generated $2.9 billion in local, state and federal taxes, a 6.4 percent increase over 2014. These taxes significantly contribute to our quality of life and statewide public programs including education, public safety and health services. In fact, taxes generated through tourism activity funded 16.1 percent of our statewide education programs.

The business volume produced by Arizona’s tourism industry equates to, or even surpasses, that of other Arizona export industries including microelectronics, mining, aerospace and agriculture. The state’s tourism sector has been growing jobs and earnings more steadily than the state’s broader economy and delivers economic benefits to communities within all 15 Arizona counties. It produces more than $8 billion in economic output, annually. These are extraordinary results that cannot be matched by any other Arizona industry.

Research also suggests that tourism marketing creates a “halo effect,” contributing to a positive overall impression of a destination. Consumers who recalled a destination marketing campaign were not only more likely to visit, but also more likely to have a positive impression of a location as a good place to live, retire, start a business or attend college.

As our state’s only marketing entity promoting Arizona as a travel destination, the Arizona Office of Tourism (AOT) markets the state on a global scale through innovative advertising campaigns, social media activities, travel trade efforts, media relations outreach, and public relations initiatives. Guiding our marketing efforts are four marketing pillars to help us define and promote the vast diversity of Arizona’s travel experiences: Adventure, Wellness, Heritage & Culture and Culinary.

This marketing activity helps us promote Arizona’s exciting travel activities to encourage visitation so all Arizonans can benefit from the valuable dollars our visitors leave behind. Tourism is a solution that keeps our state’s economic momentum moving forward. When Arizona’s tourism industry is performing well, our entire state is moving in the right direction.

From generating jobs to supporting public services, Arizona’s vast and diverse tourism industry provides a vital economic benefit that resonates throughout state.