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Long-Haul Visitors, Boost to Local Economy

Trace WardDid you know that Flagstaff welcomes more than 500,000 international visitors annually? And, those long-haul visitors have an economic impact of nearly $70,000,000 on our local economy.

It is Flagstaff’s time to shine on the international stage. Our destination is appealing to the international traveler – especially the repeat international visitor who has already experienced some of the top destinations in the United States such as New York and San Francisco. Flagstaff represents an authentic, Americana feel with tremendous natural resources and nostalgic highways. The “Flagstaff visitor” is one that is intrigued by U.S. history, fascinated with Native American culture, loves a good road trip and craves to be in the midst of awe-inspiring natural beauty.

“Build it and they will come” might be true in some cases but not in destination marketing. And, it is certainly not true when it comes to international travel. Through research, data driven marketing and years of building travel-trade relationships, the Flagstaff Convention and Visitors Bureau, with the help of the industry partners, has built a stellar reputation for Flagstaff as a must-see destination on the international traveler’s itinerary. This reputation and the aspirational dreams of the international residents all over the world, but particularly in our key markets, comes from many years of product development with tour operators and travel agencies as well as inspiring marketing campaigns and outreach to international travel writers.

You might be wondering who are all of these international travelers and what countries tend to be more of a “natural customer” for Flagstaff? Although our mix of international business does resemble the rest of Arizona, it is not a mirror image. Flagstaff tends to attract a bit more of the adventure-seeking traveler as well as the multigenerational family travelers with a slightly stronger mix than the rest of the state arriving from Europe and the Oceana Region. We are fortunate to have year-round activities, which help drive visitation from different hemispheres of the world.

Along with our concerted efforts toward our key markets depicted in the graph, we keep a close eye on emerging markets such as China, South Korea, New Zealand, Scandinavia and the Benelux Region. These markets are showing up in our data and the people from these regions can be seen on the streets of Flagstaff regularly. We want to welcome them and better understand how they make travel buying decisions.

With a growing middle class in many countries, accessibility to air travel and a budding interest in a more authentic travel experience, Flagstaff is finding its rightful place on the list of must-see destinations for international travelers. And, it would be a smart bet to predict that this segment of traveler will have a greater impact on our economy as the Flagstaff tourism product continues to mature. FBN

By Trace Ward

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


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