By Deanne Boynton Grupp, Experience Scottsdale

When Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport lands a new international flight, it’s a win for all of Arizona – including Scottsdale.

It was a win when American Airlines announced its non-stop flight from London Heathrow, which began operating last spring. It was a win when Condor Airlines extended its seasonal air service from Frankfurt, Germany. It was a win when Eurowings, part of the Lufthansa Group, announced its Frankfurt-Phoenix service in 2019. And British Airways’ daily flights from the United Kingdom have been a win for 23 years.  

But securing these flights – and more importantly, keeping them – isn’t always an easy task. The ongoing collaboration between Sky Harbor and Arizona’s destination marketing organizations like Experience Scottsdale has been essential in growing and strengthening Arizona’s international air service.

Increased lift from overseas markets offer more fliers the opportunity to make their way to Arizona. For Scottsdale’s tourism industry, that means the possibility of welcoming international travelers – travelers who tend to stay longer and spend more in the destinations they visit – to our resorts, restaurants and attractions.

And for Arizona’s economy, that means the potential for big economic benefit. Already, non-stop international flights into Sky Harbor generate $3.4 billion in total economic impact for the region, according to research from Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business and Seidman Research Institute.

In 2017, Sky Harbor, Experience Scottsdale, the Arizona Office of Tourism and our local tourism partners funded the initial marketing dollars that would help land Condor’s Frankfurt-Phoenix flight, which opened a new gateway for European travelers planning to visit in the summer months. Because of Condor’s success, the airline announced it would continue its May through October service in 2020 and offer additional flights in April.  

We hope to give Condor reason to expand that service even further. And so our work continues to help fill not only its planes but also the planes of all our overseas carriers. Part of that work involves building relationships with the airlines to ensure they understand the allure of Arizona as an international travel destination.

Last year, Experience Scottsdale had the opportunity to showcase the destination to Condor and British Airways, hosting executives from both airlines overnight in Scottsdale. During these brief visits, Experience Scottsdale toured the representatives throughout the city, allowing them to explore Old Town Scottsdale, visit the area’s resorts and attractions, and taste the local cuisine. That firsthand knowledge will help the carriers market Scottsdale vacations to fliers.

Experience Scottsdale and Visit Phoenix also partnered with the nation’s destination marketing organization, Brand USA, to promote American’s flight from London Heathrow. Experience Scottsdale welcomed 100 qualified U.K. and Irish travel professionals, who experienced Scottsdale’s wide array of amenities and the ease of traveling to and from Sky Harbor. As a result of that trip, 100 additional travel professionals are equipped to sell Scottsdale vacations to clients in England, Scotland and Ireland.

International travelers are critical to the strength of Arizona’s economy and Scottsdale’s hospitality businesses. Through joint efforts between Sky Harbor and organizations like Experience Scottsdale, the city and state can enjoy more wins – and more opportunities to bring international visitors to the Sonoran Desert.

Deanne Boynton Grupp is the vice president of tourism of Experience Scottsdale.