October 24, 2020

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Arizona travel spending was down 60% in August, losing nearly $1 billion and 113,000 jobs

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Arizona tourism took a nosedive this summer as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s what...

Arizona tourism took a nosedive this summer as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s what the latest numbers tell us.



a man in a canyon: Air pollution from urban areas sometimes mars the view of the Grand Canyon, like this vista at Hopi Point.


© Rob Schumacher/The Republic
Air pollution from urban areas sometimes mars the view of the Grand Canyon, like this vista at Hopi Point.

The Arizona Office of Tourism reported a nearly $1 billion loss in travel spending and a 59% decrease in jobs supported by travel spending this August in comparison to last August, reflecting one of the many industries hit hard by the pandemic.

There were 113,000 fewer tourism jobs in August as a result of decreased rates of hotel capacity, revenue and overall travel.

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In a news release sent Monday, the Arizona Office of Tourism broke down the numbers and compared the current totals through August to last year’s metrics for the same period.

The $8.5 billion spent by tourists in Arizona through the first eight months of this year is a 51% decrease from the same time in 2019, according to its monthly tourism report.

Arizona has lost half of its tourism tax revenue, or $361 million, according to the report. 

“This data paints a bleak, but accurate picture of the importance of tourism to our economy and the steep challenges our industry faces in working toward recovery,” said Debbie Johnson, director of the Arizona Office of Tourism, in a statement.

“This is why we’re so focused on growing consumer confidence and promoting Arizona road trips and staycations.”   

This drastic dive is startling after 2019, one of the best years on record in Arizona tourism. In 2019, a record 194,300 jobs were supported by tourism dollars.

Travel spending in August 2019 was above $1.6 billion. This August, it was $641 million, according to the report. 

“The 2019 metrics highlight the importance of tourism as a key driver of the economy, employer of Arizonans and supporter of services that all Arizonans rely upon,” read the press release.

Surprisingly, lodging establishments in Gila, Pinal and La Paz counties reported increased occupancy in August this year compared with August 2019.

Reach breaking news reporter Salma Reyes at [email protected] or on Twitter @r_salma_

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Arizona travel spending was down 60% in August, losing nearly $1 billion and 113,000 jobs

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