Three to get ready: Visitor’s board cites ways to boost and sustain industry

Three to get ready: Visitor’s board cites ways to boost and sustain industry

By Jack Miller

Jack MillerEach and every day, we in the tourism industry are challenged by the question: What does the future hold?

We ask ourselves this when considering how to best meet the needs of current and future travelers as trends in the industry change.

We ask ourselves this when we hear economists say another downturn is just around the corner, and market analysts claim the hospitality industry has reached its peak.

We ask ourselves this when we see similar destinations refresh their brand images and expand their advertising, thus making the tourism industry all the more competitive.

Tourism is among Scottsdale’s largest industries, representing one in eight jobs in our community. Our destination attracts nearly 9 million visitors every year, who spend $40 million on sales and bed taxes alone. When Scottsdale’s tourism industry thrives, our community thrives.

But what does the future hold for Scottsdale tourism?

Experience Scottsdale’s board of directors has identified three ways in which we can support and sustain our tourism industry for the future, no matter the challenges or obstacles that lie ahead: product and experience development, transportation and regional connectivity and downtown activation and connectivity.

Product and experience development

To remain competitive, Scottsdale must continue offering products and experiences are authentic to our destination. The city may renovate Scottsdale Civic Center Mall and WestWorld of Scottsdale. (Experience Scottsdale)

(Experience Scottsdale)

To remain competitive, Scottsdale must continue offering products and experiences that meet the needs of today’s travelers and are authentic to our destination. Scottsdale is considering projects that could help achieve this, from renovating Scottsdale Civic Center Mall and WestWorld of Scottsdale, to building the Desert Discovery Center. Such plans could generate opportunities by maximizing current event space and creating new gathering spaces in the city.

Transportation and regional connectivity

Scottsdale must explore options that will move visitors from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport to our hotels and resorts. (Experience Scottsdale)

(Experience Scottsdale)

Visitors and residents increasingly desire the ability to easily move around our community and connect to neighboring communities. Scottsdale must explore options that will move visitors from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport to our hotels and resorts as well as focus on our downtown, looking at improving walkability, creating a bike-share program and adding parking.

Downtown activation and connectivity

Scottsdale is compiling a public-spaces master plan that would facilitate connectivity, create distinct points of interest and provide places for people to gather and spend time. (Experience Scottsdale)

(Experience Scottsdale)

Downtown Scottsdale is the heart of our community, but to attract new customers to the area and support local businesses downtown, we need additional energy and vibrancy, day and night. Scottsdale must take a holistic approach to downtown planning. The city is compiling a public-spaces master plan that would facilitate connectivity, create distinct points of interest and provide places for people to gather and spend time. Such spots would allow for additional product and special events, new reasons for people to come downtown.

Tackling these three ideas is a big task, and the tourism industry will continue to work with city leaders to prioritize projects that fall within these parameters. We hope to show the return on investment the community will receive by embracing these recommendations.

With them, Scottsdale will evolve and become an even more desirable destination that can compete with the very best for years to come. Once these three paths are accomplished, we in the tourism industry will be thinking about the next steps, because we’ll always plan for what the future will hold.

Jack Miller is general manager of Fairmont Scottsdale Princess and chairman of the board for Experience Scottsdale, which is responsible for marketing the Scottsdale area as a premier travel and meetings destination to national and international leisure visitors, travel agents, tour operators and meeting planners.