Tourism industry is making a difference

Tourism industry is making a difference

By Rachel Sacco, President and CEO, Experience Scottsdale

When Experience Scottsdale discusses the benefits of Scottsdale’s tourism industry, we often focus on the statistics – an industry that supports 21,000 jobs, welcomes 9 million visitors, generates 22 percent of all privilege taxes, and leaves behind an economic impact of $2.4 billion.

But this industry is more than just a numbers game. The benefits of Scottsdale’s tourism industry extend well beyond the economy. That’s because at many of the hospitality businesses in Scottsdale, there are compassionate individuals looking for ways to support the community where they live, work and play.

There are 50 hotels and resorts within Scottsdale city limits, with several more in the pipeline. And while these hotels and resorts certainly contribute to Scottsdale’s tax coffers, many find additional ways to give back, especially to the community’s most vulnerable.

Since 2011, The Saguaro has partnered with Scottsdale Training and Rehabilitation Services (STARS), a Scottsdale-based nonprofit devoted to improving the lives of people with developmental disabilities. One dollar from every night of a guest’s stay at The Saguaro is donated to STARS. Those donations are put toward programs and resources for teens and adults with developmental and cognitive disabilities, serving as a lifetime support system for participants and their families.

Hotel Valley Ho works closely with Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central and Northern Arizona, which serves as a home away from home for families with children facing medical challenges. With families staying overnight at three campuses between Phoenix and Mesa, Ronald McDonald House is always in need of soaps, shampoos and lotions; Hotel Valley Ho donates these supplies in bulk several times throughout the year. In recent years, hotel staff have increased their engagement with the charity, from cooking meals for the families to renovating rooms, organizing the kitchens, and fixing electrical issues.

Embassy Suites by Hilton Scottsdale Resort has a “Make a Difference Committee” that plans and coordinates volunteer events and community-wide outreach efforts throughout the year. Recently, the committee’s efforts have focused on the Vista del Camino Community Center, which provides services allowing Scottsdale residents to maintain self-sufficiency when facing issues such as homelessness, economic crisis or emotional stress.

Hotel staff donate nonperishable goods to the Vista del Camino Food Bank and school supplies to the back-to-school program. Last July, Embassy Suites staff volunteered for the city of Scottsdale’s back-to-school event at Scottsdale Stadium, helping children select their school supplies for the year.

Embassy Suites also partners with Family Promise of Greater Phoenix, which provides emergency shelter, counseling and employment assistance to families facing homelessness. Embassy Suites is a recruiting resource for the Scottsdale-based nonprofit, connecting adults to entry-level positions in the hotel.

These are just a few examples of the charitable efforts undertaken by Scottsdale hotels and resorts. Whether a business, employee or resident, we all have a stake in the health and wellbeing of Scottsdale. Next time you hear the statistics, keep in mind the humanity behind Scottsdale’s tourism industry as well, and the very real ways those in hospitality give back to the community we all treasure.

Editor’s note: 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.