Sacco: Scottsdale tourism continues to be effervescent blossom

Thirty years ago, Scottsdale offered just 5,000 total hotel rooms, and bed-tax collections topped out at $1.4 million. Back then, Scottsdale’s tourism bureau was just a four-person team promoting a blossoming tourism industry.

Rachel Sacco

My how the times have changed.

These days, the Scottsdale region boasts 14,000 hotel rooms, while the city of Scottsdale collects more than $17 million in annual bed tax. Today, Experience Scottsdale is a standalone, nonprofit organization with 45 staff members representing more than 400-tourism related businesses in Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation.

Experience Scottsdale’s story began in 1987, when the Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce formed its convention and visitors bureau division. This year marks Experience Scottsdale’s 30th anniversary promoting travel and tourism in Scottsdale, and my sincere thanks goes to the community that has supported us over all these years. It has been our privilege to represent this ever-growing industry over the course of three decades.

In those intervening years, Scottsdale’s community experienced many milestones.

The Phoenix Open moved to TPC Scottsdale, soon becoming the “Greatest Show on Grass” and the most highly-attended tournament of the PGA Tour. Scottsdale Arts was formed to manage the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and Scottsdale Public Art. Voters funded the creation of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, our 30,000-acre Sonoran Desert playground. Native Trails brought Native American culture, song and dance to Scottsdale Civic Center Mall.

The Hotel Valley Ho returned to its mid-century-modern glory. Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West opened its doors to national acclaim. Countless hotels, restaurants, golf courses, shops and attractions opened, and countless special events were hosted.

Throughout those same years, Experience Scottsdale celebrated many of our own milestones.

Thirty years ago, we hosted our first Sunsational Familiarization Tour, inviting meeting planners to visit the destination firsthand with the hope they would bring their conferences and conventions to Scottsdale. In May, we’ll welcome meeting planners once again for the 30th Annual Sunsational tour.

Twenty-eight years ago, we ran our first cooperative newspaper advertisement in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. This year, we are advertising in major publications like Golf Digest, Bon Appétit and American Way, the in-flight publication for American Airlines.

Twenty-five years ago, we published our inaugural visitors guide, the Scottsdale visitor’s bible on all of the area’s amenities. Experience Scottsdale recently released the 2017 Scottsdale Visitors Guide, which is distributed annually to more than 125,000 potential visitors and is available for download online.

Twenty-two years ago, we launched our first destination website, which received nearly 90,000 hits in a year. Last fiscal year, ExperienceScottsdale.com received more than 5.2 million page views.

And of course, over the years, we debuted several advertising campaigns, from 1991’s For the Sunshine of Your Life campaign to 2002’s Bring Your Passion for Life campaign to the launch of our newest campaign, Absolutely Scottsdale, with many more in between.

From 1987 to 2017, Experience Scottsdale has positioned Scottsdale as a world-class vacation, meetings and group travel destination. We’ve brought together Scottsdale’s diverse tourism community to help ensure our destination remains top of mind with visitors from around the world. Each year, the Scottsdale-area hosts hundreds of meetings and conventions, is spotlighted in thousands of articles, and welcomes millions of visitors.

While much has changed in our community and our organization, our unwavering commitment to bolster the city’s reputation as a tourism destination has remained constant for 30 years. We look forward to continuing our mission for the next 30.

Editor’s note: Rachel Sacco is the president and CEO of Experience Scottsdale

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