By Rachel Sacco, President & CEO, Experience Scottsdale
Here in Scottsdale, the benefits of travel and tourism are tangible. Visitors have traveled far and wide to enjoy Scottsdale’s unique charm and healing climate since the 19th century, making tourism one of the area’s oldest industries. And today, it remains one of the largest – adding jobs, tax revenue and economic prosperity.
Nearly 21,000 jobs in Scottsdale are directly related to the tourism industry. Our resorts, restaurants, golf courses, spas and attractions employ those thousands at all levels. For such businesses – and their employees – the benefits of travel cannot be overstated.
For Taliesin West, an iconic attraction steeped in history, travel adds purpose. “Tourism is the lifeblood of Taliesin West,” says Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation president and CEO Stuart Graff. “Not only because of the revenue that it brings, but also because it is the way that we carry out our mission. Our job is to take Frank Lloyd Wright’s principles that he articulated through a seven-decade career, 20 [years] of which were here in Scottsdale. And with more than 100,000 tourists coming through Taliesin West every year, we have the ability to take that message all over the world.”
For Arizona Outback Adventures, an adventure outfitter that has operated in Scottsdale for more than 20 years, travel adds opportunity. “Without travelers, we would just be a small little business,” director of marketing Annemarie Kruse says. “Because of the travelers that we get to share the desert and the Southwest with, we’re able to be this flourishing part of the Scottsdale tourism industry.”
For LDV Winery, which offers sips of its Southern Arizona varietals in its Scottsdale tasting room, travel adds customers. “Tourism is critical to [LDV Winery] because it brings in new people,” co-owner Peggy Fiandaca says. “It allows us to tell our Arizona wine industry story, which is a growing, exciting industry in the state of Arizona. And it allows us to tell the LDV story effectively to new folks.”
And for Cloth & Flame, which hosts elegant dinners in the desert throughout Arizona, travel adds relationships. “Relationships through travel are so important to us, because they extend our reach beyond Scottsdale’s borders,” owner Matt Cooley says. “We get probably 40 percent of our business from out-of-state visitors. We do a lot of travel groups, corporate groups and meeting planners. Our local groups will see us one time – they love us, they’ll come to our events. But the corporate groups we might see every year in perpetuity, which is an incredible resource to know that you have.”
Because millions of visitors from around the world travel to Scottsdale each year, these businesses – and many more – can thrive. And that means our local economy can thrive.
Scottsdale’s domestic visitors alone – some 8.9 million in 2017 – contributed $2.4 billion in economic impact. But travel’s importance is not only felt on a local level. It is felt on a state and national level as well. In 2017, Arizona welcomed 43.9 million people, who collectively spent $22.7 billion in the state and supported 187,100 industry jobs, according to the Arizona Office of Tourism.
Nationally, travel and tourism account for 2.7 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product and $164.7 billion in tax revenue for federal, state and local governments. Without such revenue, each American household would pay $1,300 more in taxes.
Together, we as Scottsdale residents, employees and businesses can ensure that this industry remains a strong force in Scottsdale so that we all continue to reap the benefits that travel provides.
Rachel Sacco is the president and CEO of Experience Scottsdale, which is responsible for promoting the Scottsdale area as a premier travel and meetings destination to national and international leisure visitors, travel agents, tour operators, meeting planners and media.