Special Interest

Debbie Johnson
Executive Director


Tourism is one of Arizona’s largest export industries and produces a positive economic cycle of spending, job creation and tax revenue that impacts all 15 counties. It is one of the few industries in Arizona that generates such a large impact on our economy.

At the end of each day, visitors will have spent an estimated $58 million throughout Arizona. This spending will generate nearly $8 million in local, state and federal taxes. This is phenomenal economic activity and it is the reason why tourism is one of our state’s most important economic drivers.

In 2016, Arizona experienced recording-breaking visitation which led to unprecedented visitor spending. More than 43 million overnight domestic and international visitors experienced Arizona as a travel destination. This visitation generated more than $21.2 billion in direct visitor spending. Additionally, more than 80 percent of the industry’s overall economic impact was generated by out-of-state visitors bringing new money into the state.

We are in the process of collecting 2017 data and indicators show the last year is on par, if not better, than 2016. Based on the last several years of the economic performance of Arizona’s tourism industry, we do not expect anything less for 2018.

Spend generated by our visitors produces sales in lodging, food services, entertainment, recreation, transportation and retail businesses – economic sectors we collectively call the “travel industry.” Yet, this spending impacts more than those involved in these frontline businesses. The travel industry purchases services from industry-related companies including landscapers, laundry services, florists, furniture companies, pool cleaners and produce suppliers, thus expanding the economic ripple effect of visitor spending.  The spend impact continues with employees of these companies who spend their paychecks and generate revenue within their local economies by buying gas, groceries, going to sporting events and shopping. Without visitation, this entire sequence of this economic activity stops.

In 2016, travel spending directly generated more than 184,200 jobs for our residents. This represents an additional 4,700 jobs over the previous year. And since the Arizona experience can’t be shipped overseas, neither can the jobs that are associated with it.

Earnings generated by residents employed by tourism-related jobs increased to $6.5 billion, a 4 percent increase over the previous year.

Visitor spending in 2016 led to $3.09 billion dollars in tax revenue. More than $1.7 billion generated at the local and state level. Additionally, these taxes reduce the annual tax burden for every Arizona household by almost $1,200 per year.

What we love even more about these numbers is that these tax dollars generated by visitor spending go directly to essential services for our residents such as public safety, health services and education. For example, 16.1 percent of travel-related taxes fund education programs within Arizona.

Tourism is a highly competitive global industry where travel consumers have more choices than ever to decide where to spend their vacation. As the only public agency marketing Arizona as a travel destination, the Arizona Office of Tourism is dedicated to promoting Arizona as a vibrant travel destination against direct competitors such as California, Colorado, Florida, Texas and Utah to fuel our economy.

We produce a variety of year-round global marketing efforts to inspire visitation to our state and we know this is a strategy that works. Last year, our domestic campaign efforts influenced an estimated 494,000 trips to Arizona and generated an estimated $829 million in travel revenue. Additionally, we place great importance on marketing to international travelers: not only do they stay longer and spend more money; they are also more adventurous and see more destinations in our state while here.


Visit our consumer website,, to see how we are marketing the state or to find Arizona experiences to enjoy.  If you’re looking for more information regarding our research or marketing plans, you can visit our business site,