Tourism Spending in Arizona Reached All-Time High in 2022

Article originally posted on KTAR News on July 20, 2023

(Photo by Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)...

PHOENIX — Roads are congested. Wait lines are – yet again – a drag. The snowbirds have returned. That’s right. Tourism in Arizona is bustling, and it’s busier than ever. Tourists across the state spent $28.1 billion in 2022, equating to $77 million spent each day, according to Lisa Urias, director of the Arizona Office of Tourism. “The pandemic put a little bit of a damper on tourism in every community, but we are really back,” Urias said.

“The numbers from 2021 are up… we’re really back to pre-pandemic levels at this stage in almost every major category.”

Overall, travelers are visiting during the spring, winter and fall months, with particular interest in stopping by outdoor spaces, partaking in hiking opportunities and immersing themselves in the cultural scene, the director said.

Oddly enough, Arizonans make up the largest amount of tourists within the state.

“We account for that by the number of overnight stays that people are participating in in different areas of the state, but we had from Arizona 11.3 million accounted visits across the state. So we love to explore our own community statewide,” Urias said.

Domestically, Californian tourists were the second-largest guests with 7.6 million visitors, followed by Texans, New Yorkers, Floridians and Coloradans.

“Our largest international visitor is Mexico, followed by Canada, and then we have a lot of visitation from a number of European markets. Of course Great Britain, Germany and France are the primary international markets,” she said.

She noted that the latest numbers do not reflect the largest event in Arizona’s recent history — Super Bowl LVII in February. Although, mega events are regular contributors to the state’s economy.

Here’s how Arizona tourism in 2022 compares to recent years

Overall, visitor spending has recovered from pre-pandemic numbers.

  • 2022: $28.1 billion
  • 2021: $23.6 billion
  • 2020: $15 billion
  • 2019: $25.6 billion

Urias said some business, such as hotels and resorts, are adapting to post-pandemic trends by offering discounted weekend rates during the summer.

As travel increases, she credited upscale activities, local offerings and outdoor activities for attracting more visitors.

What’s next for tourism in Arizona?

The Arizona Office of Tourism predicts tourist numbers to continue increasing annually.

“We do predict that the numbers will increase as long as we stay the course, promoting the brand of Arizona around the world in an effective way,” Urias said.

“We have a lot of competition out there. Everybody promoting their brands, not just nationally, but internationally.”

While many are directly impacted by tourism, it remains as one of the largest economic drivers for Arizona, she explained.

“That tax revenue that we generate really does help contribute to the state’s overall budget. We contribute about 10 percent of the state’s overall budget,” Urias said.

“So that means those dollars go to lots of things Arizonans care about — education, infrastructure, all kinds of things that we all care about.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Nick Sadowski contributed to this story.