Governor Ducey and hospitality leaders discuss the future of tourism and economic growth in Arizona

Alistair Dominguez

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PHOENIX, AZ - At the Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort, Governor Doug Ducey met with executives from the hospitality sector to discuss Arizona's employment recovery, rising economy, and tourist possibilities.

14 hospitality leaders from across Arizona attended the roundtable discussion. The participants include the President and COO of Wetroc Hospitality, Bill Nassikas, the parent company of Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort, Chip Rogers, the President and CEO of the American Hotel and Lodging Association, Kim Sabow, and the Director of the Arizona Office of Tourism, to name a few.

The Governor and hospitality leaders addressed the industry's ongoing recovery, their efforts to spur further employment creation, how they plan to spend recent state investments, and their main challenges and priorities for the next year during the roundtable conversation.

In 2019, over 47 million people visited Arizona, generating more than $25 billion in revenue for the hospitality and tourist industries. Arizona had over 300,000 hospitality and leisure occupations, accounting for 10% of total employment, prior to the pandemic.

However, during the year of COVID-19, the tourist sector suffered losses in visitors, visitor expenditure, and jobs all across the world. According to current data, overnight visitors fell by 31% in 2020 compared to 2019, and Arizona lost $11.8 billion in yearly travel spending.

This past year, to help offset the effects the pandemic had on the tourism sector, Governor Ducey announced a couple of initiatives. Among them are:

- A $ 1 million one-time investment to support the Safest Outside Restaurant Assistance Program in December 2020, which will provide up to $10,000 per restaurant for items such as outdoor furniture, barriers, patio heaters, patio covers, and other items needed to expand their outdoor dining premises. On January 5, the governor announced an extra $2 million for pending applications, followed by a $1 million announcement on January 26.

- A $101.1 million in federal American Rescue Plan funding on July 14 to launch the Visit Arizona Initiative that is hoped to boost job creation and expedite economic recovery in Arizona by increasing visitor and tourism expenditure.

- Permit to serve to-go drinks to bars, liquor shops, and restaurants on May 21 in order to open up new potential for eateries and other businesses around the state.

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