Southern Arizona attractions look for needed boost with marketing, holiday weekend

Updated: May. 27, 2021 at 5:28 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The promise of big bucks the first holiday weekend after many COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted could be exactly what many attractions in southern Arizona need. The industry that relies on tourism and travel is hoping to get more people out of the house and into their locations—using some extra marketing.

Thursday morning, May 27, about two dozen people took in the tiny sights of the Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures. While attendance is not as small as their displays, it has been down due to COVID. The museum had to close for about four months, and being an inside attraction has slowed visitors.

“It was a tough year,” said Lisa Hastreiter-Lamb, executive director of the Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures. “Our attendance was down 70 percent in 2020.”

They got a PPP loan, some state grants and donations to help them keep afloat, and once more people got vaccinated, more started coming in. Still, their budget and attendance are down about 30 percent from normal. To help, they launched a summer pass of their own starting Thursday and hope the holiday weekend will bring more people in.

“We do hope it will be busy, of course, because that will kind of give us a trend for what’s happening this summer,” said Hastreiter-Lamb.

They are not alone in a slower opening, or even opening at all. The Southern Arizona Attractions Alliance said a little under half of the attractions they help market are closed.

“The majority of them, though, are going to be open by the fall,” said Tom Moulton, executive director of the Southern Arizona Attractions Alliance.

They are releasing their summer Book of Fun passport the first part of June, just in time for summer—and hope it will also boost attendance at attractions like the museum. Their new addition is a BOGO ticket for the Sabino Canyon crawler.

“Our whole idea behind the passport is to go to as many attractions as you possibly can,” said Moulton.

“The passport allows people to be able to afford it more easily, so we can get more people in the door and more people who might not be able to come see us otherwise,” said Hastreiter-Lamb.

After a hard year, locations are hoping marketing like this will help them stay afloat. Otherwise, the museum said they’d have to reduce programming and staff.

The Southern Arizona Attractions Alliance also has a digital passport you can get online. It will notify you when a new attraction reopens and gives you discounts at places all around town.

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