Tourism industry struggling in southern Arizona

Published: Aug. 24, 2020 at 6:22 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - While air travel is down 74 percent during the pandemic, according to AAA, auto travel is down only 3 percent over the summer of 2020.

Road trips are as popular as ever with Americans doing 700 million of them this year.

And road trips are good news for the motel, travel lodge industry which is seeing a big resurgence because of their safety features protecting travelers from the pandemic.

“We have outdoor corridors, there’ no elevators, we are doing drive through check ins, park right in front of your door,” said Nicole Dahl, the General Manager for the Hotel McCoy, at 29th and Interstate 10. “Pull into the archway, and we’ll check you in in your car.”

Safety is a big issue for travelers these days.

“We’ve cut our occupancy in half, so only half our rooms are available on any given night,” Dahl said. “So you don’t have to worry about a big crowd.”

All common areas are wiped down with approved cleaning agents every two or three hours, food is delivered to the rooms, once a person is in the room, no one else enters not even to clean, there are strict rules governing using the pool.

Dahl says she’s somewhat of a “germaphobe” so the hotel has gone a step above to insure safety.

“Perception of safety is the biggest thing for any of these properties,” said Dan Gibson, the Senior Director of Communications for Visit Tucson. “But having that leisure based model has helped some of those boutique motels as well.”

Hotel McCoy has 51 murals painted around the property as well as an art gallery making the stay more like an experience rather than just a place to stay.

“It’s a place you can stay and feel like you’ve done something,” Dahl said. “So the art plays in to that.”

But these days, safety is a big selling point.

“No one enters the room while you’re staying there,” she said. “Once you check in, no one will come into your room.”

With tourism down and struggling, both the city of Tucson and Pima County are discussing whether to give Visit Tucson a million dollars in CARES money to help.

“As things begin to really jump back, to say Tucson is safe, these safety measures are happening, to bring back that excitement about Tucson,” Gibson said.

Copyright 2020 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.