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Encouraging Feedback on Region’s Tourism

With cooler temperatures on the rise and the departure of the Arizona Cardinals, Flagstaff’s busiest season for tourists may be slowing.

However, Flagstaff may have fared better than most cities statewide when it comes to this year’s tourism season.

According to Heather Ainardi, director of the Flagstaff Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), “For the first time since January 2008, Flagstaff is reporting three consecutive months of positive increases in hotel occupancy rates. Amid statewide economic troubles, Flagstaff remains a bright spot.”

One main way the CVB is able to track the vitality of the tourism industry is by analyzing Flagstaff’s Bed, Board and Booze (BBB) monthly sales tax figures. The BBB tax is imposed on restaurants, bars and hotels. The key component of this tax, according to Jacki Lenners, marketing and public relations manager for the CVB, is the hotel or lodging portion.

“The lodging portion is a more significant indicator of the health of the tourism industry, as it can be assumed that visitors are staying in hotels. The restaurant/bar portion includes a portion of visitors, but also a large portion of local Flagstaff residents eating out.”

Overall according to Lenners, hotel bookings and occupancy rates have steadily increased since May 2010, and have surpassed last year’s numbers.

“These numbers [hotel occupancy rates] certainly indicate that things are improving for Flagstaff tourism, and our hope is that this trend continues through the year,” said Lenners.

One tactic those at the CVB and hotels around town hope will aid in the continued influx of tourists is the “Kick Return to Flagstaff” promotion. This promotion was developed by the CVB in conjunction with hotels around town and offered to those visitors staying in Flagstaff during the Arizona Cardinals Training Camp. Guests who stayed at participating hotels during the promotion were given a discount coupon in the hopes they would return to Flagstaff during the off-season for tourism.

“Our goal with this promotion is to encourage visitation during the busy summer session, but to also spread that out to the slower seasons,” said Lenners.

While the number of visitors staying in hotels may be an important factor in determining tour- ism growth, Jennifer Wesselhoff, president and CEO of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce, says it is certainly not the only one. Wesselhoff says that although Sedona’s tourism season has not significantly improved or worsened according to the hotel occupancy numbers, Sedona is still seeing lots of visitors – approximately three million per year.

“It appears that visitors are still coming to Sedona, but they are either day-trippers or are staying in other accommodations (timeshares, campgrounds, etc.),” said Wesselhoff. “Visitors are still watching their budgets and are finding ways to make trips more affordable.” FbN

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