Bisson: tourism continues to grow in Arizona even during summer months

As the new Arizona publisher of the Scottsdale Independent, I’ve been making my rounds throughout the Valley meeting with key contacts in each East Valley community.

Charlene Bisson

I’ve been given a lot of great feedback from praise to criticism, and I hope readers and community stakeholders continue to share suggestions with me about their community newspaper.

While I’ve enjoyed meeting new faces, I’ve been surprised by how many folks don’t realize how big our circulation numbers are in the communities we serve.

We deliver the Scottsdale Independent to 75,000 mailboxes to the ZIP Codes 85266, 85262, 85260, 85259, 85258 and 85255 from residential to business during peak season, and we have several bulk drop locations where outside visitors can peruse our newspaper.

Although I often hear from advertisers that everyone leaves for the summer in Arizona, it’s simply not true.

The United States Postal Service will hold newspapers for vacation stops, and in the case of Scottsdale, about 2,000 homes are vacant for summer in the above ZIP Codes.

And while some of us flock for a week or two to cooler temperatures, the Arizona Office of Tourism reports that 24 percent of those who choose Arizona as a vacation destination do it from July through September, according to research by Longwoods International 2016 data.

That’s “24 percent of 43 million people who visited Arizona in 2016, who collectively spent $21.2 billion in the state,” according to the Arizona Office of Tourism’s website,, states. “The $3.09 billion in 2016 tax revenue equals an annual tax savings of $1,186 for every Arizona household and supported 184,200 industry jobs.”

As you can see by reviewing the Arizona Office of Tourism report, tourists have a vital impact on Arizona throughout the entire year, keeping Arizona thriving.

“It is a surprisingly even break down per season,” said Scott Dunn, public information officer and senior director of communications at Arizona Office of Tourism. “Mostly because of different areas of the state, folks in the Valley are always surprised by that. It is peak season for Northern Arizona.”

New 2017 data reveals that 9.1 million people visited and stayed overnight in Arizona in the third quarter of the calendar year.

Mr. Dunn said that is a 2.5 percent increase over the same quarter in 2016.

“It has been steadily growing since 2013,” he explained. “We’ve seen a 13 percent growth occupancy rate. This captures every head in a bed. We don’t necessarily know where they are from, but it does include international and business stays.”

According to Experience Scottsdale Community Affairs Manager Stephanie Pressler, Phoenix residents choose Scottsdale as a destination during our hot Arizona months.

“Phoenix is our top feeder market for visitation throughout the summer, with locals representing 31 percent of our summertime visitors,” she said. “Eight percent of summer visitors are coming from Los Angeles. That’s why Experience Scottsdale is targeting those markets with our new summer campaign.”

Scottsdale resorts have about 50 percent occupancy in the summer — seeing a dip in business group meetings and conventions.

“We are trying to show there is value to bring your business during the summer,” said Ms. Pressler, noting Scottsdale has great deals and room rates this time of year. She added businesses may qualify for a rebate program for up to $5,000.

“If we show that we have an active and exciting community during the summer — it is a good way to attract visitors — the more we can talk about Scottsdale, the more we can convince people to come out,” she said.

Things to do like Summer Spectacular ArtWalk (July 12) and Scottsdale Beat the Heat race (June 16) are just two of numerous activities people can participate in during the summer.

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