RECOGNIZING THE SPIRIT OF TRAVEL DURING NATIONAL TRAVEL & TOURISM WEEK
by Rachel Sacco
Most years, during the first week of May, hospitality businesses throughout the country unite with one voice to celebrate the tourism industry’s accomplishments and contributions to the country. In recent years, National Travel & Tourism Week has heralded record growth, job creation and tax revenue.
This year, as to be expected, is far different. During National Travel & Tourism Week, May 3-9, few will be traveling, and many hotels, attractions, restaurants and shops across the nation will sit empty. Instead of a celebration, this year calls for acknowledging the people and businesses in Scottsdale’s tourism industry.
This year’s theme is the “Spirit of Travel” – a spirit of strength, resiliency and selflessness. To honor the week, I could focus on the resiliency of the travel industry, which is the foundation of our local economy. I could share how travel has rebounded after every crisis, with visitors returning to our streets and enjoying all that Scottsdale has to offer.
I could focus on the strength of the industry, and how Scottsdale will one day welcome those 11 million annual visitors again – the people who inject $3.1 billion into the economy and provide $57.7 million in tax revenue for public services and tourism programming.
But instead, I’d prefer to reflect on the selflessness of the industry – an attribute that has been on full display throughout the past two months of the COVID-19 crisis.
At a time when many in the tourism sector have lost their livelihoods, their colleagues have rallied to lift them up. Mountain Shadows, The Scott Resort, FnB and more have humbly asked locals to contribute to fundraisers for their laid-off and furloughed workers. With the donated funds, businesses have created care packages for those struggling. At Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, those donations have provided 8,000 meals to employees and their families.
Elsewhere, hospitality businesses have given back to those on the frontlines of the crisis. Through the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s “Hospitality for Hope” initiative, over 300 hotels across Arizona have pledged rooms for hospital staff and first responders concerned about returning home due to the risk to their loved ones.
Restaurants also have carried the banner for healthcare and public safety workers, donating free coffee and meals to those battling the coronavirus firsthand. Brat Haus established the “Feed the Heroes” program, with 100% of proceeds from food and beer sales going toward more than 2,000 meals for hospital, police, fire and emergency medical services staff.
Understanding this public health emergency has taken a toll on the entire community, businesses have stepped up efforts to support residents as well, selling grocery bundles and toiletries. In addition to its Italian cuisine, EVO Scottsdale began selling fresh produce, pantry items and toilet paper and launched a delivery service to bring such goods to seniors and those medically unable to leave their homes.
These are just some examples we have witnessed in recent weeks, but such selfless acts are not new to Scottsdale’s tourism industry. All throughout the year, hospitality businesses aim to give back to our community, from The Saguaro donating a dollar from every night of a guest’s stay to Scottsdale Training and Rehabilitation Services (STARS) to Hotel Valley Ho’s longstanding partnership with Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central and Northern Arizona.
We are a community brought together by travel and tourism. Together, we all enjoy our museums, festivals and events alongside visitors. We explore our galleries during the weekly Scottsdale ArtWalk. We take staycations and plan spa days at our resorts. We hit the golf courses, take hot air balloon rides and so much more.
For the duration of this crisis, I urge you to help the places that make Scottsdale special so that they will be here for our community and our visitors after the crisis ends. If it is within your ability, please consider donating to fundraisers, ordering take-out, shopping local retailers online and purchasing gift cards for future experiences.
In doing so, you’ll be supporting people. This is not a nameless, faceless industry. Thousands of people compose Scottsdale’s tourism industry. They are housekeepers, servers, bartenders, hiking guides, spa therapists, chefs, sales managers and more. They are people who live throughout Scottsdale and our neighboring communities. They are our neighbors, friends and family members.
They represent the spirit of travel. The strong, resilient people who we will depend upon to revive our economy after the crisis. The selfless people who are happy to serve our community and our visitors, even when they are struggling.
Please join Experience Scottsdale in saluting our friends in Scottsdale’s tourism industry throughout National Travel & Tourism Week and beyond. Learn more about how to support these businesses and people at SupportScottsdale.com.
Rachel Sacco is the president and CEO of Experience Scottsdale, which establishes Scottsdale as a year-round, luxury travel destination.