Tourism in Tucson up, number of available hotel rooms down

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - According to a report issued by the Arizona Office of Tourism, the tourism industry has become a $22.7 billion industry, a 7 percent increase from last year.

Tucson is not faring as well, although the industry did grow. Lodging in Pima County increased 3.3 percent in the first three months of 2018. The number of passengers going through the airport increased by nearly 5 percent. Six and a half million people visited here in the past year, 88 percent of them for leisure activities.

Tourism now supports 24,700 jobs according to Visit Tucson's 2016 numbers. That's up from 22,000.

All good so far.

However, included in the lodging numbers, is a demand and supply category. It shows demand is up 2.4 percent but supply is down by nearly 1 percent. Maricopa County is up by 2.5 percent. The only other county with a decrease is Yuma County which is down 1.4 percent.

According the Fletcher McCusker, the chair of the Rio Nuevo Board, downtown alone is 1,000 hotel rooms short.

This is despite a new AC Marriott, a new Moxy which may soon break ground, and plans approved for a new hotel at the Tucson Convention Center.

McCusker says other hotel people are looking around but for the time being are only looking.

The demand however, continues to increase. The report shows a 2.4 percent increase in demand.

"We've had a great year," said Kat Rumbley, the marketing director for the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum. "Attendance is up 4 percent, which is amazing."

Even on a hot summer day, the parking lot is nearly full with license plates from California, Oregon, Illinois and places in between.

Phoenix is adding international flights while Tucson is not generating much activity from overseas, which is a big market for the Desert Museum.

"We see a lot of people from Germany, from Europe," Rumbley said. "We always have tourists every summer."

If the market wants to grow, it's generally agreed, the hotel market needs to grow as well.

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