Arizona Office of Tourism’s Director Shares What’s Next for Local Travel

While this year’s National Travel and Tourism Week, taking place May 3-9, looked a little bit different, the spirit of travel remains. We spoke with Debbie Johnson, Director of the Arizona Office of Tourism, on the impact of this year’s campaign and where our local travel industry is headed from here. Hint: it’s good news!

This year’s National Travel and Tourism Week was different for everyone around the world. What has the impact been of the video series highlighting local employees?

National Travel and Tourism Week is typically a celebration of all the ways travel enriches lives and strengthens communities. But this year, we decided to go beyond highlighting places and experiences and focus on people. The perfect way to show our theme, “Arizona Spirit of Travel,” was to spotlight a few of the nearly 200,000 Arizonans in our hospitality industry, who hosted over 45 million overnight visitors in 2018. We’ve received a lot of positive feedback on the series. It was wonderful to share the stories of those in the tourism industry who deliver the amazing experiences that keep people coming back to Arizona. 

Are there any non-monetary ways for people to help the local tourism and hospitality industry during this time?

Although the best way to support Arizona’s hospitality industry is to plan your next trip to experience something in Arizona, there are plenty of other ways to support tourism businesses and employees. Our website has some great ideas, such as writing a positive online review about a place you’ve visited and sharing a picture of your favorite Arizona vacation destination, restaurant meal or local business on social media and tagging the business of location.

How do you see Arizona’s travel industry changing for the better after all this?

I believe the main difference visitors will see immediately is the dedication of airports, airlines, resorts, hotels, attractions and destinations to enhanced sanitation and distancing policies and procedures that are visible to travelers. Our industry has always been focused on making guests feel welcome, so it’s really a natural extension for the industry to include enhanced cleanliness as part of an updated guest experience.

What can locals and visitors expect from Arizona’s tourism in the next year or so?

First and foremost, we will continue to support our tourism industry partners through frequent communication and providing tools and resources throughout the recovery. In the very near future, we’re excited to launch “Rediscover Arizona,” our multi-channel tourism industry recovery marketing campaign that tells the story of the many ways Arizona’s beauty & wonder will help people reconnect. The campaign will start off by focusing locally, encouraging Arizona residents to safely explore things to see, do and experience in their own backyard. It will expand to drive markets in nearby states as people start to travel more. We know many people, myself included, are looking forward to traveling, so we’re showing them why that first trip should be in Arizona.

For more ways to support Arizona’s tourism industry, visit

Check out the best deals at local resorts this summer by clicking here.

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