Arizona’s West Coast reached a milestone in 2017, when visitors spent more than $500 million in Mohave County for the first time that year. Now, local tourists have done it again.
According to the Arizona Office of Tourism, tourists spent $569 million in Mohave County last year, with a 5.2% growth in spending throughout the region. While tourism spending has always been good for business in Western Arizona, however, it’s also been a good year for government agencies. Twelve percent of all state taxes collected last year in Mohave County were provided by tourists.
Mohave County’s growing draw for tourists runs parallel to Arizona itself, which last year experienced a record high of $24.4 billion spent by visitors. For the first time, the state tourism office reported this week, state tax revenues generated by tourists surpassed $1 billion for the first time in 2018.
“Statewide, we’ve had more visitors than ever before,” said Arizona Office of Tourism Director of Content and Communications Scott Dunn. “There were six visitors for every one Arizona resident. With 45.4 million visitors last year, it’s like bringing the entire population of California into our state … it’s great for businesses, and great for counties.”
Almost 6 million of Arizona tourists last year were international visitors, with about 80 percent originating from Mexico and Canada, according to tourism office records. The tourism office also marked record growth in visitors from Australia, with more 15 percent more down-under residents visiting than in 2017.
According to Dunn, visitors to Mohave County spent $471 per day, and stayed an average of 2.3 nights per visit. California residents remained Arizona’s top source of visitors last year, many of whom stopped in Lake Havasu City during their stays.
“A lot of visitors to Mohave County are weekend vacationers,” Dunn said. “People come to Lake Havasu City to play. Those visitors are expanding the customer base for hotels, businesses and restaurants … it’s a benefit for those who live and pay taxes in Arizona.”
With the release of the tourism office’s report, Gov. Ducey invited tourism officials throughout Arizona to attend an annual tourism conference in Tucson earlier this week. GoLakeHavasu President Terence Concannon was among them. He’s spent the past three years drawing attention to Havasu, and according to Concannon, the Arizona Office of Tourism has noticed.
“I’ve gotten a lot of compliments for the work we’re doing,” Concannon said Thursday. “For the next couple of months, our tourism industry is looking strong. We’re forecasting an increase in tourism revenue for next year, but not as much of an increase as in previous years.”
According to Concannon, Havasu’s tourism draw may be approaching critical mass. While the “Home of the London Bridge” has continued to attract increasing numbers of visitors over the past several years, Concannon says he’s been in the tourism business for too long to expect it to continue.
“There’s a strong trend toward Havasu right now, but a strong trend can’t maintain itself indefinitely,” Concannon said. “It will eventually plateau.”
According to Concannon, a large part of Havasu’s popularity among visitors has been the city’s welcoming attitude toward tourism.
“There’s an openness in the community toward visitors,” Concannon said. “For residents, tourism is kind of a win-win … people come, they spend money, they have a great time, then they go home and tell other people how great a time they had. I’ve never been to a place where people embrace tourism this much.”
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