Tucson hotels busiest since the pandemic began

Updated: Mar. 23, 2021 at 8:24 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Tucson hotels and resorts are the busiest they’ve been since the start of the pandemic. Visit Tucson said February was the first time the city has seen hotel and resort occupancy surpass 50% in the past 12 months.

“I know we have not had a week like last week since the good ole days pre-pandemic, and we’re excited about it,” said Jim Kerrigan, the general manager at Lodge on the Desert in Tucson.

He said Lodge on the Desert hit 78% hotel occupancy last week. The general manager at Hampton Inn & Suites at Tucson Mall, David Miller, said the hotel is at about 80% occupancy. It’s a massive surge compared to the single digit percentages often during the last year.

“If you’re comparing it to last year, of course it’s fantastic, comparing it to two years ago still significantly down but a very nice uptick,” Miller said.

An uptick in business that’s exciting to see. However, he said it’s not bringing in the same amount of money it did before COVID.

“We are seeing a similar occupancy start to accrue as we move forward, but we’ll still be challenged by the rate we can charge,” Miller said.

The Senior Director of Communications at Visit Tucson, Dan Gibson, said the city is leading the western U.S. in hotel occupancy. For now, tourism hotspots like San Francisco and L.A. aren’t hosting large conventions and meetings which has helped to level the playing field.

“It really is this purely leisure thing. Just people and their families looking to go somewhere. That has given us the opportunity to catch up quicker and boost our tourism industry,” Gibson said.

A boost our tourism industry experts expect will stick around.

“I think we’re going to have an incredible fall,” he said. “I think we had a lot of pent-up demand of people interested in Tucson before the pandemic.”

As more people become vaccinated and get comfortable traveling, Visit Tucson foresees even more people will make southern Arizona their destination of choice.

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