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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : opinions : editorials April 29, 2016

7/22/2014 1:25:00 PM
Editorial: Hardy tourists deserve gratitude in Arizona

The recently released tourism numbers for Arizona in 2013 tell us three things - the government shutdown was as damaging as a natural disaster, the state's scramble to keep the Grand Canyon open paid off, and Arizona can still draw a crowd.

Thank our hardy tourists for withstanding many unpredictable obstacles last year (Beltway budget battles, wildfires, seismic anomalies) to bring their hard-earned money to Arizona.

Tourists spent more money than ever in Arizona in 2013. According to a study by Dean Runyan Associates through the Arizona Office of Tourism, tourism spending in Arizona was up 2.7 percent last year. In Yavapai County, it was up 2.3 percent.

If that is a surprise, it is because a big chunk of tourism dollars in Arizona come via national parks. The Natural Resources Study by the National Park Service showed visitation declined across the nation by more than 3 percent from 2012 to 2013. The two major contributors cited were Hurricane Sandy, which impacted 24 states, and the government shutdown Oct. 1-17, which impacted every state with a national park.

Arizona has 20 national parks and monuments, including Montezuma Castle and Tuzigoot in the Verde Valley. Those two combined to draw more than 474,000 visitors who spent more than $26 million, a nice haul considering those lost days in October.

Arizona's reliance on Grand Canyon National Park, specifically, spurred Gov. Brewer to make arrangement with the NPS to keep the place open. Like five other states, Arizona was investing in itself with no guarantee of getting its money back. It was a risk, and it was worth it. Visitors kept coming

Vacationers bent with the wind, so to speak, in order to visit Arizona. They found other sites to see within the state's borders. They dodged fires. They adjusted to the temporary detour around a major (collapsed) entry into the Lake Powell area.

They found a way to make their Arizona vacation happen, and everybody benefited.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Article comment by: Mary Heartman

@ Clean and sustainable industry
Oh, I will definitely second that!

So why isn't Yavapai Community College planning to supplement its viticulture program with a program aimed at supplying knowledgeable developers and managers for a clean and sustainable Hospitality industry in the Verde Valley? There must be a lot of technological advances that, if incorporated into the initial planning, would off-set the resource-depletion. And better management techniques to counter labor cost/benefit negatives.

Posted: Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Article comment by: Clean and sustainable industry

Fortunately all the Verde Valley's towns and cities are discovering what Jerome and Sedona already know -- the travel industry is clean and permanently sustainable business.

Now Cottonwood is getting in on the act, and discovering the significant financial benefits visitors bring.

And for Cottonwood, I can tell you this ... it's Old Town, with its authenticity, history, and walkability that is bringing in the visitors.

If Cottonwood were to instead transform itself into some huge sprawling version of Prescott Valley or Anthem, that would only undermine its attractiveness to visitors, not to mention reduce everyone's quality of life.

Let's hope Cottonwood and the rest of the Verde Valley continue to protect and enhance its small town character and charm. It makes financial sense, and sense for those of us lucky enough to live here.

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