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  • Pima County Administrator highlights need for tourism investment

    Jan 10, 2013 | Read More News
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    Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry told members of the local hospitality industry on Thursday that birdwatchersre-energizing tourism must be one of the key pillars in stimulating the regional economy.

    “We believe very strongly, and will back it up with public investment, that revitalizing tourism is directly related to our economic well-being,” Huckelberry said at the Southern Arizona Lodging & Resort Association’s annual legislative gathering.

    Tourism has an annual economic impact of $2 billion locally and employs more than 22,000 people, Huckelberry noted. He applauded the industry for surviving a substantial blow when the funding for the region’s tourism promoter, Visit Tucson, dropped 38 percent since the start of the recession, plummeting from $10 million in fiscal year 2007 to$6.5 million last fiscal year. But, he said, there must be a focus on bringing those numbers up, which is why Pima County invests 50 percent of its bed tax revenue in tourism promotion.

    “Some people might say that funding tourism is kind of frivolous and is not a core responsibility of government,” he said. “What they don’t understand is that a good solid economy,with good solid revenues, creates tax revenues that support the core services of government.”

    The County’s Economic Development Plan, endorsed unanimously by the Pima County Board of Supervisors in November, proposes asking voters to invest in new exhibits for some of the region’s most popular attractions. “We have certain attractions that people come to visit that are unique to the Southwest and unique to the community,such as the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and the Pima Air & Space Museum,”he said. “We want to make sure those are world-class attractions.”

    Aside from rebuilding the relationship with Mexico,the plan also envisions capitalizing on emerging tourism markets, he noted.

    Kino Sports Complex, initially built as a spring training facility, has been repurposed to focus on the growing Major League Soccer and amateur sports market. The complex this year hosts an international soccer game between Canada and Denmark,plus eight soccer spring training matches in January and February that lead up to the 2013 Desert Diamond Cup.

    The County is also capitalizing on the bicycling market, he said. A river park trail system, known as “The Loop” has been attracting national attention as the County and its partners try to raise the area’s profile as a bicycling destination, he said.

    For more information on the County’s economic development priorities, please visit http://www.pima.gov/econdev/. View the Economic Development Plan at http://www.pima.gov/administration/documents/pdfs/PC_ED_Action_Plan_2012-10-17.pdf