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Tourism: Benefiting the Community

A leisurely jog through Buffalo Park, stargazing at Lowell Observatory or a casual evening at a local restaurant will likely result in overhearing conversations in languages other than English or with accents spoken by visitors. Flagstaff is a destination with year-round appeal for both domestic and international travelers, for people traveling solo, as friends and couples or multi-generational families.

Tourism is an economic driver for Flagstaff resulting in steadily increasing bed, board and beverage (BBB) dollars directly benefiting our community, and City of Flagstaff residents gain significant value with BBB dollars. The BBB tax was created and adopted by the voters in 1988, which permitted a 2 percent levy on the gross sales of revenue generated from hotels, motels, campgrounds, bars and restaurants, and is collected in addition to all other taxes. Approved for a 10-year period, the tax was renewed for a 15-year period, and as of 2010, the BBB taxation will continue until 2028 without change.

BBB funds contribute to five divisions in the city:

  • Recreation receives 33 percent of the taxes.
  • Tourism receives 30 percent of the taxes.
  • Beautification receives 20 percent of the taxes.
  • Economic Development receives 9.5 percent of the taxes.
  • Arts and Sciences receives 7.5 percent of the taxes.


Operating in a fiscal year (FY) from July – June, FY2018 is on trend and projected to show modest gains, while the CVB team continues to diligently work to educate, motivate and inspire travel to the beautiful City of Flagstaff.

FY2017 BBB tax collections increased 16.5 percent, and in a three-year span, BBB tax collections are approximately $23 million. The BBB tax is an important indicator of local economic health and restaurants/bars and hotels/motels categories are showing positive trends.


Bed Board and Beverage Tax Revenue
Fiscal Year 2015 Fiscal Year 2016 Fiscal Year 2017 Fiscal Year 2018 (estimate)
$6,981,772 $7,452,864 $8,686,648 $8,054,600

The mission of the Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), as well as the bureau’s stakeholders, is to develop, promote and maintain Flagstaff as a year-round visitor destination with professional services that will benefit the community economically, environmentally and socially.

The CVB focuses on marketing efforts specifically communicating to consumers, while also partnering with travel trade and procuring earned media. Marketing programs will continue to be strategic and guided by research-based facts. Further, knowing the origin of travelers assists in target marketing:

  • Seventy-eight percent are domestic, primarily originating from Arizona, California, Illinois, Nevada, Texas and Utah.
  • Fourteen percent are international, primarily originating from Australia, China, France, Germany and United Kingdom.
  • Eight percent are comprised from segments, including motorcoach tours, meetings and conventions, friends and family.


Flagstaff experiences various peaks of visitation, which create high and low demands. As a four-season destination, there is a concerted effort put toward increasing visitation during the shoulder and off-seasons in January-early April, and November. For instance, during the shoulder season, there continues to be opportunity associated with visitors in metro-Phoenix attending spring training. Research has indicated that of the 1.9 million attendees, 58 percent travel from out of town and 31 percent travel to national parks and monuments during their stay. Flagstaff has created or leveraged opportunities to communicate in advance of the visitors’ hometown departures to motivate the visitor to include Flagstaff on their itinerary, which the industry terms as pre-arrival awareness. Spring training is just a segment of the bureau’s target marketing effort that has a strategic parallel aligning with the fans of teams that train in Arizona with visitation from markets mentioned above.

Essentially, Flagstaff residents play a part in the equation as community ambassadors welcoming visitors with smiles and open arms to stay and play responsibly while enjoying attractions, restaurants and natural beauty, including Lowell Observatory, Arizona Snowbowl, Route 66, national monuments and the Flagstaff Urban Trail System.

Tourism is providing and supporting arts, beautification, parks and recreation, jobs, saving residents taxes and more. Without the visitors, residents would not realize:

  • Annual tax savings of $1,200 for every Arizona household. – Arizona Office of Tourism.
  • Nearly 7,500 jobs in Flagstaff – Northern Arizona University.
  • $2.3 million to keep our parks beautiful – City of Flagstaff.


Learn more about what tourism does for you at flagstaffarizona.org/tourism-matters. FBN


By Trace Ward

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



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