SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — 2019 was the best year of tourism for the State of Arizona, but it was followed up with one of the worst in 2020, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Arizona Officer of Tourism Deputy Director Becky Blaine described the stark contrast year over year.
“2019, when you look at the data, that was our best year ever,” Blaine said. “The pandemic really halted that in March of 2020.”
Spring Training was cut short, international travel was severely curtailed and bars and restaurants moved to take-out only business models.
But as the calendar turned from 2020 to 2021, vaccines became more and more available, and tourism returned.
“In July, visitor spending was estimated at about $1.57 billion, which is only 2% below July of 2019,” Blaine said.
For Arizona, most visitors come from within the United States. The top country for international travelers is Mexico. But in Scottsdale, the foreign country that brings the most visitors to town is Canada, according to Karen Churchard, the City’s Director of Tourism and Events.
“Canadians are extremely important,” Churchard said. “They’re our most important international market to the City of Scottsdale.”
2019 brought more than 200,000 Canadians to Scottsdale, and that number dropped below 120,000 in 2020.
In 2021, Scottsdale hopes Canadian tourism will rebound as statewide tourism has rebounded. They’ve got an ad campaign, which has run for multiple years, called “Loonie Love,” a reference to the Canadian one-dollar coin and how much Scottsdale would like Canadians to come and spend them here (once they are converted, of course).
Canada still has land travel restrictions in place due to the pandemic, but Scottsdale is looking forward to a day when those restrictions are lifted.
“They plan to start advertising to Canada in January and February if it’s appropriate,” Churchard said. “If it’s sooner than that, we certainly would be able to pivot with Experience Scottsdale and advertising to that market.”
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