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Visit Tucson reports $205M fiscal-year economic impact despite pandemic

Visit Tucson reports $205M fiscal-year economic impact despite pandemic

Westward Look Grand Resort and Spa

A social-distancing sign is placed on a window at Wyndham Westward Look Grand Resort and Spa, 245 E. Ina Road, while Luisa Sanjuan, an employee for 15 years, cleans the front door.

Visit Tucson, the destination marketing agency for Tucson and Southern Arizona, reported an economic impact of $205 million for the 2019-2020 fiscal year ended June 30.

And while that was up 14% over the previous fiscal year, the impact could have been much greater if the last five months of the fiscal year hadn’t been dragged by the COVID-19 pandemic, Visit Tucson’s chief said.

“For the first seven months of the fiscal year, Visit Tucson was on pace to have its most effective year in recent memory,” Brent DeRaad, president and CEO of Visit Tucson, said in announcing the results as part of the organization’s annual report.

DeRaad noted that all lodging indicators were up for the sixth consecutive year, and sales and bed-tax revenue were up significantly before the COVID-19 stay-home orders caused mass cancellations of meetings, sports events and leisure tourism.

The economic impact of Visit Tucson was calculated using spending data for visitors who came to Tucson as a result of Visit Tucson’s efforts, including guiding leisure visitors and marketing to meetings, sports, and Mexico markets, assisting film projects, providing public relations and promoting tourism.

Last fiscal year Visit Tucson was funded mainly by a $4.8 million contribution from the city of Tucson, with $1.75 million from Pima County, $275,000 from Oro Valley and $233,500 in private funding.

Based on its estimated impact, Visit Tucson says it returned $22 for every $1 of its funding.

On a calendar-year basis, Visit Tucson noted, direct travel spending in Pima County in 2019 was up nearly 6% from 2018 at $2.6 billion, supporting 24,770 jobs and generating $796 million in earnings.

Such spending generated about $220 million in state and local taxes, reducing the tax burden for each Pima County household by $530, Visit Tucson said.

Contact senior reporter David Wichner at dwichner@tucson.com or 573-4181. On Twitter: @dwichner. On Facebook: Facebook.com/DailyStarBiz

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