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Border reopening means boost for Arizona's economy

Posted at 9:00 AM, Nov 08, 2021

On Monday, the US-Canada border and the US-Mexico border reopened to fully vaccinated visitors for non-essential travel. The Arizona Office of Tourism says the state relies heavily on these visitors every year to help boost the economy.

READ MORE: US lifts pandemic ban on nonessential travel, opens doors to visitors

According to research, Arizona saw about 960,000 overnight visitors from Canada in 2019 and 250,000 in 2020. That means visitors spent about $6 million less last year because of the pandemic.

Data shows Arizona saw four million overnight visitors from Mexico in 2019 and one million in 2020. Mexican visitors spent $1.4 billion in Arizona in 2019 and $364 million in 2020. The data only includes people who visited for less than 30 days and not the number of snowbirds who spend many months here.

"The one thing that COVID has done is upend all of our seasonality," said Deputy Director Becky Blaine of the Arizona Office of Tourism. "Now that the borders have opened in November, we could see a big influx in people traveling for the holidays. They're not tied to a specific time to travel here anymore and they will travel here for the holidays if they haven't before, because there's a lot of pent-up demand."

International travelers from overseas who are fully vaccinated will also be able to fly to Arizona starting on Monday. Blaine says hotels and vacation spots are ready to go. She says the Office of Tourism is working with the American Hotel and Lodging Association to try and hire more workers in order to meet the demand.