Arizona is in the midst of a tourism boom, with a record 1.6 million visitors arriving in the state last year.
But a look at the numbers shows the state has not been doing much better.
According to the latest figures from the Arizona Department of Tourism, more than 1.4 million people visited Arizona last year, down from a record 3.2 million in 2016.
The decline in visitors was partly due to the economic recession, which affected many tourism areas, including Phoenix, Tucson and Flagstaff.
That’s the second consecutive year that the state’s tourism industry has suffered from a decline in visitation, according to data from the Tourism Development Corporation.
And it’s the third straight year that Arizona’s tourism growth has been below that of the rest of the country.
In 2018, tourism was the third-highest in the nation, trailing only New York and California.
But the numbers were even worse than the previous two years, as visitors were up only 0.6 percent from the previous year.
“Arizona’s tourism business has been very good over the last three or four years,” said John Lutz, CEO of the Arizona Tourism and Convention Commission.
“We have a lot of talented people and a lot in place.
But we’ve had a lot more work to do to keep up with the growth.”
Lutz said the recent economic downturn was also a factor.
The tourism industry relies heavily on hotel and restaurant spending, and many of the state is still recovering from the devastating floods of 2017 and 2018.
“People want to come to Arizona for its great weather and the beautiful scenery and the wonderful people,” Lutz said.
“But it’s also the economic drivers that make the state so special.”
The downturn in the economy, along with the severe weather, forced many hotel chains to slash their occupancy rates and cut back on their marketing and promotional efforts.
And now, Lutz says, that’s happening again.
“They’ve got to get back to business as usual and get their people back,” he said.
He also pointed to the recent cancellation of a scheduled event by the state, which had been scheduled to take place in Flagstaff, as evidence of how bad things are in the tourism industry.
“There’s a lot less room for them to have this event, and that’s going to be a big setback,” Luts said.
The Arizona Tourism Commission said that in 2018, the state had a net loss of $15.4 billion, which is the second-highest net loss in the country, behind only North Dakota.
But it said the overall economy, which includes hotels, restaurants, retailers and other businesses, was up 2.5 percent.
The company that owns the Flagstaff Marriott Hotel, which opened in 1990, said in a statement that it was committed to supporting its employees through the difficult times and to providing the support they need to recover.
“Flagstaff is a tourist destination, so we’re committed to keeping the hotel open and providing our guests with the best in Arizona,” the hotel said in its statement.
Lutz called that statement a “very positive statement.”
“I think there’s a real disconnect between the state of Arizona and the tourism sector in general,” he continued.
“And I think that that is reflected in the economic downturn.”