TUSON, Ariz. — The country saw massive drops in numbers when it came to tourism and revenue.
Dan Gibson, Visit Tucson’s senior director of communications says, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been in the Old Pueblo. People were still traveling for leisure.
“When things were getting bad in California, people were coming from California. When things were getting bad somewhere else, they were coming here. When things were not so great here the numbers would drop, but there was still always people traveling in the hotel rooms, not obviously the numbers that we would expect or hope, but always something the problem really was with events and groups hotels and resorts count so much on,” said Gibson.
Like sporting events, festivals, conferences, and fairs. Tourism is mainly measured by how full the hotels are.
“By and large you're losing about you know any given month 30 to 50% of the revenue from the year prior,” said Gibson.
Looking at April 2019, Gibson says, 72% of Tucson hotel rooms were booked. In 2020, when the pandemic was in full swing, hotel room occupancy was at about 25 percent.
“In 2020, the national rate number was about 25 percent but we were actually ahead of the number. In 2019, the national occupancy was about 67 percent. So, we were doing better than the national average for hotel occupancy in April and then kind of retreated back to the norm,” said Gibson
The main draws to Tucson is the weather, of course, but also the ease of traveling to it. With international travel heavily restricted some people still chose to travel domestically.
“It's so much more comfortable for somebody from Los Angeles or from Phoenix, particularly, or Denver New Mexico, you know places like that. Tucson is easier to get to and it's more of it could be more appealing,” said Gibson.
Gibson says tourism plays the long game. And amid a health crisis, he says even with some restrictions in place and vaccination efforts becoming widespread, people still may not feel 100% comfortable with engaging in certain activities that help boost a city's tourism.