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Will Omicron crimp Tucson’s tourist season?

Tucson has an advantage over some other travel spots
Posted at 7:05 PM, Jan 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-05 21:05:41-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Just when Tucson’s headed into its peak tourism season, a new COVID variant comes along and threatens to discourage travel even more. But tourism boosters say they still have reasons to be optimistic—and a magazine article in England could help.

A version of National Geographic published in Britain praises Tucson’s Mexican food and suggests it’s the best in the U.S.

Dan Gibson of Visit Tucson says, “I don't think you have to tell anybody in Tucson that but it does, it does mean something on this national and international scale to say there's something really significant here that an outside source says has this intrinsic greater value, and so that's the thing we're trying to get out in front of people.”

Visit Tucson works to attract more tourists here. Gibson says travel spots work hard for complementary articles in influential magazines and even though this article is meant for the UK, the National Geographic piece will swing weight in this country because people can still find it on the web.

COVID and fast spreading new variants like Omicron threaten to spoil anyone’s appetite for travel. But Gibson says hotel stats for November—the freshest figures right now—show hotel bookings almost as strong as before the pandemic. And he says in a pandemic an outdoorsy destination like Tucson has an edge.

“A lot of those things that people want to do here you can be outside and that we do have a lot of the infrastructure of like outdoor dining and events that happen outside so we do have that advantage and the advantage also is that the weather gets kind of terrible other places and force everyone to be inside there isn't outdoor dining in New York City in any meaningful way right now”

Pandemic concerns cancelled last year's Tucson Gem and Mineral Show—a key part of Tucson’s tourist season that attracts visitors from all over the world. Gibson says that show is on this year, along with the many independent shows that mean so much to our local economy.