Community Update

April 2021

Tourism supports 27,000 jobs in the community



Since the founding of our community and the surrounding area, people have traveled great distances to relax and rejuvenate in Arizona. In particular, they have come to Scottsdale. Tourism is the foundation of our city and the backbone of our local economy – being a leader in jobs, tax revenue, economic impact, and, most notably, in its contribution to Scottsdale’s high quality of life. In 2019, Scottsdale’s tourism industry experienced its strongest year on record, and visitor-paid dollars accounted for 23% of the city’s total privilege tax collections – alleviating the tax burden on residents and funding important public services, as well as tourism events and programming. Though travel analysts initially anticipated Scottsdale would have another banner year in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic caused the entire global tourism industry to come to a complete standstill. Occupancy rates at Scottsdale-area hotels and resorts declined by 43% last year, and experts believe it will take years to return to that pre-pandemic success. Because of tourism’s importance to our community, supporting hospitality businesses and getting the industry back on its feet is of great importance to all residents.


In 2019, 11 million visitors supported the livelihoods of 27,000 people in Scottsdale’s tourism industry. Career paths within hospitality are diverse and rewarding, as jobs range from restaurant servers to spa directors to general managers. For millions of Americans, tourism leads to ample opportunities. There are many examples of that right here in Scottsdale, from a renowned chef and restauranteur who first entered the field as a dishwasher to a general manager of an Old Town Scottsdale hotel who worked his way up from a banquet server. Travel employees at all levels help make tourism one of America’s strongest industries and one of Scottsdale’s largest. Yet this sector has been devastated by COVID-19. Almost 4 in 10 of all the U.S. jobs lost since February 2020 were in the leisure and hospitality industry – triple the number of the next-hardest-hit industry. Some of Scottsdale’s hotels and resorts have reduced staff, on average, by 55% since January 2020. The return of Scottsdale’s visitors also means the return of stability and opportunities for hospitality workers.


Experience Scottsdale is a 501(c)6 non-profit, private company that conducts destination marketing for the city of Scottsdale and town of Paradise Valley, representing hundreds of hospitality businesses in both communities. Our mission is to enhance the local community by promoting the Scottsdale area as a luxury destination for meetings, events and leisure travel. Our staff brands the Scottsdale area as a luxury travel destination through advertisements, campaigns, social media and a variety of marketing and sales tactics. We work with meeting planners from all over the world to book their business in Scottsdale. We garner positive publicity for Scottsdale in national and international media coverage. Plus, we teach travel advisors how to sell Scottsdale vacations to their clients. These efforts result in a direct economic impact of $247 million each year. When travel virtually came to a halt last year, Experience Scottsdale worked diligently to keep Scottsdale’s hospitality businesses apprised of the ever-evolving crisis and keep potential visitors and meetings groups inspired and engaged with the destination.


Experience Scottsdale is working to ensure our industry and community recover as quickly as possible while prioritizing the health and safety of residents, visitors and employees. Experience Scottsdale launched a webpage dedicated to informing businesses and visitors about recommended guidelines for reopening, from occupancy limits and physical distancing measures to cleaning and sanitation procedures. Though we hope to kickstart our economic recovery by welcoming back visitors, we are making clear that we all must act together to minimize the risk of COVID-19. Scottsdale hospitality businesses have risen to the challenge with new and enhanced cleaning and sanitation protocols. You can learn more about the industry’s efforts at and on individual business listings. We hope you will join us in supporting hospitality businesses so that they will all be here for us to enjoy when the crisis passes. If you have questions about how a specific business is mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and keeping guests safe, we recommend reaching out to them directly.


Although people are not traveling in the same numbers as years past, many around the world are daydreaming about travels to come. As people begin traveling again, Scottsdale will compete with cities around the country and world for visitors. It’s important that potential travelers stay inspired and informed about Scottsdale during this time. Experience Scottsdale’s new microsite plays an important role in driving that future travel inspiration, sharing the opportunities that await in Scottsdale. This spring, those who search for information about visiting the city, whether now or some day in the future, will be taken to The microsite’s tagline, Extraordinary Moments, Lifelong Memories, taps the emotion that drives people to travel – that desire to seek new experiences and make lasting memories. Whether they traveled solo, with a loved one, with friends or with extended family, visitors to Scottsdale never forget the beauty of the desert, the warm sunshine, the friendliness of the people, and the luxury offered throughout the city. A new video for the microsite, produced before the COVID-19 pandemic, follows one couple throughout the years, showcasing a lifetime of memories made while vacationing in Scottsdale. That same story plays out in a commercial that premiers in cities throughout the Western U.S. this month.