Tourism generates $20.9B for Arizona in 2014, becomes the state’s top export

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Jun 23, 2015, 6:35am MST  Brandon Brown Phoenix Business Journal

More than 40 million people visited the state of Arizona in 2014, generating nearly $21 billion in direct spending, according to numbers released by the Arizona Office of Tourism on Monday.

Both the number of overnight visitors and the dollar amount generated in direct travel spending were up in 2014 from 2013: 4.1 percent and 5.4 percent, respectively.

Every day, $57 million of direct travel spending is inserted into the Arizona economy, according to AOT research.

There was no single factor that led to more tourism dollars being spent in the state in 2014, AOT Executive Director Sherry Henry told me Monday afternoon, but a combination of the improving economy and multiple AOT advertising campaigns helped.


“The Super Bowl that was here in 2015 began to get us attention in 2014,” Henry told me.

All of that spending generated $2.8 billion in local, state and federal tax revenue. The federal government brought in $1.2 billion in 2014 from Arizona travel spending.

The state of Arizona collected $798 million from tourists in 2014, which is down 1.3 percent from the previous year. The AOT said the decrease is due to the expiration of a temporary 1 percent tax, that ended in 2013. Local governments collected $737 million worth of taxes off direct travel spending.

The AOT report said that 171,500 jobs in the state were directly generated by travel spending in 2014. When combined with indirect spending, the tourism industry impacted 319,000 jobs in Arizona, according to AOT.

The majority of travelers, 83 percent, came to Arizona for leisure purposes in 2014. While only 17 percent of travelers were in Arizona for business purposes, the average business traveler spent $872, compared to the $623 spent by leisure travelers.

When looking at the origin of Arizona’s tourists, Arizonans made up the largest group, with 9.9 million Arizona residents traveling within the state and spending the night at least 50 miles from their home. In 2014, 7.7 million of Arizona’s overnight visitors were California residents and 3.8 million visitors came from Mexico.

“We are the No. 1 export industry in the state of Arizona,” Henry said. “On a pure economic impact standpoint, this industry is so strong.”


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