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If You Like Hugging Trees, You Might Want to Hug a Visitor

Trace WardDid you know that Flagstaff welcomes nearly five million visitors annually? And, those five million visitors have an economic impact of nearly $600,000,000 on our local economy.

Every time you and your family play in a city park, walk past a colorful mural in downtown or enjoy a new local restaurant, you are benefiting from dollars spent by visitors to our community. In fact, 2.3 million annual tax dollars collected directly from tourism is spent keeping our outdoor spaces and recreation opportunities pristine and beautiful. Hence, if you like hugging trees, you might want to hug a visitor.

Now, if you are not into hugs or you don’t have the explicit consent from the visitor to hug them, you can use this metaphor to welcome our visitors, give great service if you interact with our visitors at your workplace, offer a friendly hello or stop to give them a locals perspective on all the great things that there are to do in Flagstaff. Keep in mind that, in many cases, they have traveled long and far to arrive in our beautiful, quirky and fun little city – California, Texas, Germany or even as far as Australia.

I would like to challenge you to think about all the benefits that come from having five million visitors annually in Flagstaff. The travel and tourism industry enriches the lives of Flagstaff residents by generating funds used for municipal services and public programming, which enhance quality of life. In fiscal year 2015, the city of Flagstaff collected nearly seven million dollars in Bed, Board and Booze (BBB) tax revenues of which a majority are used for parks and recreation, beautification, arts and sciences and economic development.

Tourism is a job creator and an economic engine for Flagstaff and in a 2015 economic impact study we found that 7,500 jobs in Flagstaff are supported by tourism. In all of Coconino County, 11,850 jobs are directly supported by the travel and tourism industry.

Tourism is such an inextricable part of the economic fabric of Flagstaff and Northern Arizona that it is nearly impossible to imagine what life would be like without it. One thing we do know is that each household would pay significantly more in taxes but thanks to tourism spending you save $1,200 annually.

Travel activity is critical to Flagstaff’s economic strength and the Flagstaff Convention and Visitors Bureau works year round to promote our city as a premier travel destination. These efforts, combined with those of our local industry partners have made Flagstaff one of the leading destinations in the state.

Each year, the first week of May is set aside as National Travel and Tourism Week to celebrate the benefits this industry brings to our city, state and country. This year in Flagstaff as we participate in this celebration May 1-7, we want to thank and even “hug” our Flagstaff visitors.

So the next time you encounter someone visiting our city, go out of your way to give them a friendly hello, offer local travel tips and thank them for choosing to come to Flagstaff.

By Trace Ward

Trace Ward Is the director of the Flagstaff Convention and Visitors Bureau.

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