TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - It was a historic year for the tourism business in Arizona.
According to the governors office, tourists spent $24 billion in the state in 2018, and almost $2.5 billion in Pima County alone.
As Rochester natives taking a tour of the desert southwest, the Holtbys can quickly agree on one thing about Tucson - it’s hot.
“A lot of hot, a lot of dry,” said Dave Holtby, while his family stands in some nearby shade for some relief during a visit to Saguaro National Park West.
The family is also impressed by the natural beauty of the desert, joining a growing number of summer visitors to the Old Pueblo.
“Definitely completely different (from what we’re used to),” said Holtby. “It’s like we’re in an old western movie.”
Just a small part of the 6.8 million tourists who visited Pima County last year - a new record.
“These are exciting times there’s been unprecedented growth,” said Mary Rittman, President of Visit Tucson, the city’s tourism arm. Rittman says the area is seeing a lot of tourists from Los Angeles and Hermosillo, Mexico.
Events like the gem show, air show, and Tucson rodeo help draw tourists - and their money.
“Every household in Pima County has a reduced tax burden because of the taxes contributed by visitors,” said Rittman. “In the winter it’s people wanting to escape the cold, but in the summer it’s people looking for a short, fun, vacation.”