Arizona Governor, Hospitality Leaders Discuss Economic Growth

Governor Joins Tourism & Lodging Leaders For Roundtable

PHOENIX, AZ (STL.News) Governor Doug Ducey met with leaders of the hospitality industry at the Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort to discuss Arizona’s job recovery, growing economy and tourism opportunities.

“Arizona’s economy is open and booming, and we’re thrilled to welcome visitors who want to experience our great state,” said Governor Ducey.  “Arizona is a go-to destination for travelers from all over the world with our tourist attractions, like the Grand Canyon, Sedona Red Rocks, and stunning desert landscapes;  major sporting events, like the upcoming 2023 Super Bowl;  exceptional restaurants;  and renowned hotels and resorts.  We recognize the importance of our hospitality industry and letting the world see what our diverse state has to offer.  We will continue to make targeted investments to create jobs and grow our economy, and I thank everyone who continues to expand tourism in Arizona.”

Governor Ducey held a roundtable discussion with 14 hospitality leaders from all across the state, including Westroc Hospitality, the parent company of Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort, President and COO Bill Nassikas, American Hotel and Lodging Association President and CEO Chip Rogers;  Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association President and CEO Kim Sabow;  and Arizona Office of Tourism Director Debbie Johnson.

During the roundtable discussion, the Governor and hospitality leaders discussed continued recovery of the industry, their work to bolster more job growth, how they intend to spend recent State investments, and their key challenges and goals over the coming year.

Before the pandemic, Arizona had more 300,000 hospitality and leisure jobs, comprising 10 percent of employment in Arizona.  Nearly 47 million people visited Arizona in 2019, fueling our hospitality and tourism industry with more than $25 billion.

Across the globe, the tourism industry endured losses in visitation, visitor spending and employment during the COVID-19 pandemic.  In 2020, overnight visitation decreased by 31 percent compared to 2019 numbers and Arizona lost $11.8 billion in annual travel spending, according to recent data.

On July 14, Governor Ducey announced $101.1 million in federal American Rescue Plan funding to launch the Visit Arizona Initiative to offset the effects the pandemic had on the tourism industry and help it grow.  The initiative is designed to increase visitation and tourism spending in Arizona, bolster job creation and accelerate economic recovery.

On May 21, the Governor signed legislation allowing bars, liquor stores and restaurants to sell cocktails to-go, expanding opportunities for restaurants and other businesses across the state.  The Governor issued an Executive Order in March 2020 that restricts enforcement of regulations that prohibit sale and delivery of alcoholic beverages with the purchase of food to help mitigate financial consequences of the pandemic.  The legislation he signed in May allows Arizona businesses the opportunity to offer to-go cocktails beyond the pandemic.

In December 2020, the Governor announced an initial investment of $1 million to support the Safest Outside Restaurant Assistance Program to support businesses and employees of the hospitality industry, funding up to $10,000 per restaurant for items they need to extend their outdoor dining premise, including outdoor furniture, barriers, patio heaters, patio covers and more.  He announced an additional $2 million on January 5 and $1 million on January 26 for pending applications.