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Cooler weather may help tourism economy

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Posted at 4:29 PM, Oct 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-20 21:36:13-04

The fall and winter weather in Arizona is usually what brings flocks of visitors to the Valley who then spend money and boost the economy.

However, the state has already seen billions of dollars lost in the tourism industry due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"We're starting to see, obviously, a little bit of increase every month," said Becky Blaine. "Which is good."

Good, but not what the Grand Canyon state is used to.

Blaine is the Deputy Director of the Arizona Office of Tourism and she helped explain the numbers, released this month, of where the state stands.

"Visitors spent about $8.5 billion dollars throughout August of this year," Blaine said. "Which might sound like a lot, but it's actually down by $9 billion."

Plus, so many jobs are dependent on those visitors. Blaine said more than 100,000 jobs are no longer support compared to August of last year.

"My workplace... it closed down its doors during the pandemic," said Maggie Acosta.

Acosta is one of those workers who lost her job in the food industry. She worked for a company that catered for flights at Phoenix Sky Harbor for eight years.

"To me, it's like - what is going to happen now," Acosta asked.

The single mother of two was out of work. Then, her son was diagnosed with COVID-19.

The Rebound Arizona asked her how she was getting through the financial and emotional stress of it all.

"Honestly, I don't know... I don't know," Acosta said. "It's like, I'm going to say it was a lot of the support of my union family."

Acosta is part of the Unite Here 11. It is a union for hospitality workers.

They helped her find work on the political front. Acosta now knocks on doors in support of the Democratic ticket for President and the Democratic ticket for Senate here in Arizona after she feels she was not given the support she needed.

"I come out and it's like, I block everything out and I just focus on - I'm going to talk to people, I'm going to mobilize people to get out to vote," Acosta said. "And just forget about everything else. I'm using it like a therapy."

The Rebound Arizona did reach out to the Republican Senator Martha McSally.

Communications Director Caroline Anderegg sent this statement:

This is a group that endorsed Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in the presidential primary, so it’s no surprise they’d embrace another liberal like Mark Kelly. The truth is Martha was a leader in crafting and passing the Paycheck Protection Program and CARES Act that saved more than 85,000 small businesses and 1 million jobs in Arizona, and the hospitality/tourism industry was one of the top beneficiaries of PPP nationwide. She fought for enhanced unemployment benefits for all Arizonans who found themselves out of work through no fault of their own. There has been no bigger champion for Arizona workers during this pandemic than Senator McSally.

"I come out and it's like, I block everything out and I just focus on - I'm going to talk to people, I'm going to mobilize people to get out to vote," Acosta said. "And just forget about everything else. I'm using it like a therapy."

For Blaine, she does believe our weather will still help our tourism numbers slowly rise.

They re-launched their Re-Discover Arizona campaign online to help restore jobs and boost the economy.

"That will give people information about travel that they're comfortable with," Blaine explained. "There's socially distant travel, there's camping, there's all kinds of opportunities for road trips and things like that."

The Office of Tourism plans on releasing new statistics in a few weeks on spending will be able to see if those outdoor activities will help Arizona's economy.