Tourism

Scottsdale’s plans to keep up with city growth

‘Cafe Conversations’ solicit public input on tourism, events plan

Posted 9/18/22

Scottsdale has established itself as a desirable location for celebrations and parties, but is working towards expanding its image further as it continues to grow.

More than 11 million tourists …

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Tourism

Scottsdale’s plans to keep up with city growth

‘Cafe Conversations’ solicit public input on tourism, events plan

Posted

Scottsdale has established itself as a desirable location for celebrations and parties, but is working towards expanding its image further as it continues to grow.

More than 11 million tourists bring about $3.3 billion to Scottsdale’s bars, resorts and restaurants each year. What began as a city dedicated to being a gallery district quickly changed as nightclubs and bars began to slowly take over in the late 1990s into the 2000s. Now Scottsdale, especially the Old Town entertainment district, has made a name for itself as a top luxury travel destination to celebrate life events such as bachelorette parties and birthdays.

While this has proved successful, officials in the city of Scottsdale also hope to highlight other aspects of the city such as its art influence as it continues to grow.

As Scottsdale continues to develop and look toward a future as a tourism and entertainment destination, many residents are pining for its past as an arts- and nature-focused community. With the city crowding up Scottsdale is needing to develop changes to follow. While many are behind the growth in the city, locals love the natural aspects of living in Scottsdale such as easily enjoying the mountain scenery. Eleanor Brierly, a member of the Scottsdale Historical Society’s board of directors, says she understands the need for progress, but wants the city to retain its open space.  

On Sept. 8 and 9, city officials, in partnership with Experience Scottsdale, invited residents to take part in a conversation about the city’s next five year tourism and events strategic plan. The sessions included an overview with group discussions tocollect public input about the updated recommendation’s plan.

“Our open space is so important to who we are as a city and our connection to the mountains around us,” Brierly said on Sept. 9. “Mayor Drinkwater promised we’d always be able to see the mountains.”

Brierly says the city should focus on investing in transportation, like increasing trolley frequency to once every 15 minutes.

The city is aiming to work on its walkability and bring in more foot traffic into local shops and museums. Some directions being discussed are whether to focus back into Old Town’s roots and make it a center for artists, creating more murals and a flowing connection throughout the city. A long-time local of Scottsdale, Laurie Coe, said “I think of Old Town as the heart of the city, that’s where our heritage is, all the history and culture but how does it connect to the rest of the city?”

City officials want to focus on improving WestWorld, turning it into a venue for future concerts and events without taking away business from local shops and restaurants. It has the amount of space needed, parking wouldn’t be an issue and it would drive tourists further north therefore creating the cohesiveness that’s being looked for.

The events manager in Scottsdale, Cheryl Sumners, believes the pandemic has caused people to reimagine how they spend their time outdoors. After being kept indoors for the pandemic, people are looking for opportunities to go out.

Jackie Contaldo, the marketing manager for Old Town agrees.

“People are ready to come out, having experiences available for people is what the city is focusing on,” she said. “We want to position ourselves as a destination that’s fun, vibrant and welcoming for all. As for Old Town we want to make it a downtown that you want to visit not just for visitors but for residents as well.”

While there are many directions to lead future growth, the overall well being of current and future residents is being kept a priority by Scottsdale city officials.

In the near future the city of Scottsdale plans to diversify and create a more pedestrian friendly community.

Editor’s Note: Crystal Aguilar is a student reporter at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University.