Grand Canyon

January, 2010

It's no secret that the State of Arizona is struggling to balance it's budget and is predicting a $1.3 billion shortfall for this fiscal year, and three times that for the next.  But the cure is likely to kill the patient.

How did we get here?  Historically, Arizona's economy has been dependent on construction and tourism.  When the housing market crashed, so did tax receipts. Now the smart thing would have been to look toward visitation to fill in the gaps, but instead, that's exactly where the legislature wants to cut the budget. 

And when I say "cut", I mean amputate.

Yes, they want to get rid of the Arizona Office of Tourism completely to save $34 million dollars.  Never mind that tourism is on life support already, and even the healthiest operators are suffering.  The State of Arizona wants to make sure they kill it once and for all.  While this will have little impact on major draws such as the Grand Canyon, it will decimate smaller destinations such as Tombstone, Kartchner Caverns, Slide Rock and countless others. 

This is counterproductive.  You see, the more popular destinations are often inside National Parks, which contracts services to concessioners who aren't even based in the state and aren't paying taxes here.  So while cutting tourism promotion won't effect visitation to the Grand Canyon, the state's coffers aren't going to benefit as much as they would from travelers going to Tubac.  And small time operators simply don't have the budget to launch an international ad campaign and without the AOT, there is no organization to coordinate a group effort.

It seems like every time there is a budget shortfall, the legislature starts wringing it's hands at the prospect of cutting tourism promotion.  They've been trying in earnest for the past 8 years, and it seems like now their wish will be fulfilled.




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