Congratulations to Visit Phoenix on reaching the golden age of 50. I want to especially highlight the great work of Visit Phoenix President & CEO Steve Moore. Steve has been at the helm since 2002 and is considered one of the very best in the industry. Under his leadership, Visit Phoenix has received the Meetings & Conventions Magazine’s Gold Service Award every year.
I have gotten to know Steve as a tireless champion of Arizona across the United States and abroad. We share a love for Arizona, tourism, and the Chairman of the Board (Frank Sinatra). He has a knack for hiring the very best—some of whom are now in leadership positions elsewhere and others who continue to excel at Visit Phoenix.
Tourism is a core Arizona industry, responsible for nearly 185,000 jobs. The impact on our state’s economy is huge, with $21.2 billion in direct spending and an industry contribution of $3.1 billion in total tax revenue. For as long as the sun shines, I expect people from all over the country and the world to seek out Arizona as a travel destination.
What Visit Phoenix does particularly well is to help sell conventions and other big meetings to the Valley. The total future direct spending in the destination from Visit Phoenix bookings completed in 2016-2017 at the convention center and area hotels and resorts is around $680 million. We’re talking over 480,000 convention delegates and 700,000 hotel nights booked!
Its sales team sells Arizona very effectively in person and through its earned and social media efforts. Visit Phoenix in the past year has hosted over 400 event and meeting planners and attended over 40 trade shows. The organization boasts over 50,000 Twitter followers, nearly 200,000 Facebook likes and has a strong and Instagram following.
These efforts are a major catalyst in getting more visitors to make the Phoenix market part of their travel plans. In 2016, about 18.2 million people visited the city of Phoenix. For comparison, the entire population of Arizona is seven million. Total direct spending for just the city was $3.3 billion, supporting 33,000 jobs in the city itself. These visitors also contributed $443 million in state and local tax revenues.
For a longer-term perspective, since 2006 the Phoenix Convention Center has hosted more than 2.3 million meeting and business event attendees and more than 650 conventions. It’s important to note that many of these conventions and attendees are in industries that Arizona is working hard to attract, such those in the technology and healthcare sectors.
Conventions are a potential gateway to other economic activity outside of tourism. When people visit Arizona, it can spark an interest in moving their family or their business to Arizona permanently. As a former New Yorker, my first visit to Arizona was as a tourist. I credit that visit for putting me on the path to make Arizona my home.
Visit Phoenix’ scope extends even beyond our borders. My friend, Maria Lourdes Delgado, the organization’s director of tourism, is a dynamic leader in Arizona working to open doors with Mexico. Mexico is far and away our largest source of international visitors, with our friends spending over $7.3 million a day in our shops, restaurants, and hotels. Recently, the office played a key role in re-opening the new location of the Descubre Phoenix office in Hermosillo. Visit Phoenix frequently hosts travel industry clients from Mexico, which makes sense given that 3.8 million visitors from Mexico travel our way each year. These efforts are also leading to more flights and transit connections between the two countries. And ultimately more jobs!
Thank you, Visit Phoenix for being a great partner, and for all you do to improve Arizona’s economy. Happy Birthday!