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Tucson tourism braces for summer

Recovered from pandemic slump better than competitors
Posted at 6:53 PM, May 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-16 21:53:33-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Tourism drives a lot of our local economy. Tucson’s had a strong tourism rebound since the pandemic. Here’s more on how tourism stayed strong and how it could avoid the usual summer slump.

We drive by tourist attractions all the time without maybe considering the degree to which Tucson is a tourism town. Now we are headed into the summer slow spell.

Tucson’s natural attractions and great food bring in more than a million tourists a year.

Just in case you were wondering, New York is the biggest source of visitors looking for something different here. That’s according to Visit Tucson, the agency which works to attract tourists.

Tucson’s earned an international reputation for fine food. El Minuto Cafehas been part of Tucson’s food scene since Teresa Shar’s family served its first plate there 87 years ago. These days people learn about El Minuto from social media—-and there’s a ready supply of tourists from the new hotel across the street, who may have their first experience with Sonoran Mexican food.

Teresa Shar says, “I explain that a lot because it is different than some food that they're used to maybe, and I tell them my mother was born in Sonora, Mexico, so we're an hour from the border. So our food is different than something you might experience in another place back east or something.”

At Visit Tucson they say when other areas backed off advertising in the pandemic, strong marketing kept Tucson on travelers minds when they felt ready to get away again.

Tucson’s hot summers often make tourism cool down but Visit Tucson’s director Felipe Garcia says they’re offering discounts to attract conventions that may have tight budgets—and working to convince people in places like Phoenix that Tucson’s a good weekend getaway.

“So definitely we're not letting down. We're not trying to slow down, we're trying to actually reinforce that staycation concept with locals in Tucson. Call friends in the family, bring them to town but remember, even though you love them doesn't mean you have to sleep with them and send them to a hotel. So that way we can get more money in our economy.”