The coronavirus pandemic has been anything but kind. It has interrupted day-to-day life dramatically. Across the world, work has changed. Leisure has changed, as well as travel.
Arizona and its tourism industry have not been immune to the virus' effects.
While 2019 was a record-setting year, Arizona has lost $7 billion in visitor spending over the first six months of this year and $312 million in state and local taxes.
"A recent analysis conducted by Rounds Consulting Group for the Arizona Office of Tourism has confirmed that the economic impact of COVID-19 on the hospitality and tourism industry has been devastating," Kim Sabow, president and CEO of the Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association, told The Center Square. "Because of these losses, our industry is urging state and federal leaders to provide financial relief so businesses can remain open and thousands of Arizonans can remain employed," Sabow said.
The industry has suffered a fifty percent loss of jobs, according to AZ Family.
The pandemic hit at the peak of Arizona's tourism season. Spring training was canceled, spring break plans were reconfigured, and retail was shuttered.
Even though hotels remained open, their occupancy rates dropped dramatically from over 80 percent to single digits. Hotel amenities, including spas, gyms, and pools, also closed.
Hotels and their amenities are now open and starting to see some business. Some Arizona cities, such as Lake Havasu, Flagstaff, Sedona, and others with cooler summer temperatures, are beginning to see visitors.
In the meantime, Sabow said the industry has been resilient and creative in creating and implementing the AZSAFE+CLEAN program to ensure guest and staff well-being. Arizona's hospitality industry will continue to follow the CDC guidelines and recommendations to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
"This is an extremely fluid situation," Sabow said. "There are a number of variables that will impact the industry," Sabow said. "The future of the industry will be dependent on when it is safe to resume local, national and international travel as well as large group gatherings."