What we found is that Arizona's image continues to suffer because of the controversy that made Arizona national and international news for much of 2010.
Many national associations, for instance, are still reticent to plan major meetings here because they want to avoid controversy to ensure maximum attendance from their diverse memberships. It's not that every single association is fundamentally opposed to SB 1070, but simply that the planners and boards are risk averse.
The lost meetings could continue into the mid-decade because most national associations plan meetings three to five years out. With Arizona still deemed "too controversial" by some, Arizona is being ruled out this year for meetings in 2014 and 2015 by some organizations.
The tourism industry suffered across the country in 2008 and 2009 but what we found was that, while other states spent 2010 recovering, Arizona lagged behind.
One key figure followed by the tourism industry - revenue per available room - shows that Tucson and Phoenix recovered more slowly from 2009 to 2010 than three other regional cities, Denver, San Antonio and San Diego. The revenue per available room grew last year by 1.8 percent in Tucson and Phoenix, compared with 3.4 percent in San Diego, 4 percent in San Antonio and 10.5 percent in Denver, show figures from STRGlobal.
Statewide, Arizona's revenue per available room grew by only 2.2 percent from 2009 to 2010, the figures show. By comparison, that rate went up by 6.8 percent in Colorado, 6.7 percent in Texas and 5.5 percent in California.
We point out in the story, of course, that several of the most controversial provisions in SB 1070 never went into effect, blocked by a federal judge in late July and upheld by a federal appeals court last month. And that Rep. Raúl Grijalva called off the boycott in late July. But, those court actions didn't seem to have nearly the national impact as the signing of the law in April 2010 by Gov. Jan Brewer and the initial call for an economic boycott by Grijalva that same month.
So, whether the perception is warranted or rational, the stigma lingers.