Editor’s Note: Rachel Sacco is the president and CEO of Experience Scottsdale. Kate Birchler is the board chair of Experience Scottsdale and the assistant vice president of tourism marketing for Macerich.
National Travel & Tourism Week, May 7-13, is the annual celebration of the contributions of the U.S. travel industry.
This year marks its 40th anniversary, and across the country, industry representatives will spotlight the essential role that travel plays in driving economic growth and innovation through the theme #TravelForward.
When we move travel forward, Scottsdale moves forward. In recent years, the influence travel holds over our economy has never been clearer — our community succeeds when tourism succeeds. Fortunately, despite economic headwinds facing the country, people are prioritizing travel after years of missed opportunities, and meetings groups are convening after years of missed connections.
The success we’ve seen since the pandemic will only continue. In 2021, 9.7 million visitors generated $2.5 billion in economic impact, and that impact is sure to grow as Scottsdale has seen an increase in visitors and visitor spending in the years since. On a larger scale, travel serves as a catalyst for a productive U.S. economy and helps power the success of other industries.
The U.S. travel industry generated a $2.6 trillion economic output in 2022 and supported 15 million jobs, fueling communities, small businesses and working families across the country.
At Experience Scottsdale, our mission is to enhance the local community by promoting the Scottsdale area as a luxury destination for meetings, events and leisure travel. We always want to ensure residents are benefiting from our thriving tourism industry. That means we’re attracting visitors who are supporting local businesses, respecting our natural environment, creating quality job opportunities, and generating valuable tax revenue to be reinvested back into essential public services like police, fire and transportation.
When we move travel forward, other industries move forward as well. Each year, Experience Scottsdale books hundreds of meetings groups, conferences and board retreats into our hotels and resorts, allowing key industries like finance, insurance and healthcare to drive growth, innovation, education and training. Tourism is considered the front door to economic development because it is often C-level executives and entrepreneurs’ first introduction to Scottsdale — whether they’re coming here for one of those conferences, a vacation or a mega event.
Think back to just a few months ago, when Arizona was on an international stage, hosting not one but two mega events over the same weekend.
Experience Scottsdale helped our partners at the city of Scottsdale move economic development forward by inviting corporate site selectors to attend the Super Bowl and WM Phoenix Open. They experienced so much of what Scottsdale has to offer, and they will surely keep the city in mind as they seek out future headquarters.
How will we keep this momentum going, and keep moving travel forward to ensure a brighter future for Scottsdale? It’s something Experience Scottsdale and the city of Scottsdale have addressed in the five-year Tourism & Events Strategic Plan, which will be implemented over the coming years.
The Strategic Plan is a roadmap for Experience Scottsdale and the city’s tourism and events team as we strive to maximize the economic benefits of tourism while minimizing its impact on our natural environment. This shared vision will sustain our tourism industry and allow our community to flourish now and into the future.
Travel is at the heart of Scottsdale’s economy. This National Travel & Tourism Week, we are proud to celebrate all that travel does to move our community forward, and we hope you’ll join us in recognizing tourism’s importance to our city, state and country.