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Valley hotel industry depending on Arizona residents to stay afloat

Renaissance Hotel in downtown Phoenix
Posted at 3:23 PM, May 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-22 20:20:14-04

The Arizona Office of Tourism and the Valley hotel industry are leaning on Arizona residents to help them rebound.

There were certainly dark days as the coronavirus swept across the state.
Thousands of businesses stalled, workers were laid off, and one of the hardest-hit industries is tourism and hospitality.

"About 45 percent of the employees in this industry lost their jobs," said Debbie Johnson with the Arizona Office of Tourism.

That's nearly 90,000 people.

Tourism accounted for more than 1 billion dollars of our general fund last year. That could be more than a hundred million dollars less this year.
Employees across the industry are now desperate to get back to work.

"They can't feed their families, it's single parents, it's people with kids, it's sometimes people taking care of elderly parents," said Johnson.

The governor is giving the green light to get back to business. The office of tourism says it starts with local residents and a campaign called "Rediscover Arizona."

"We've got to get out there and explore like we're visitors, we all are cooped up, I'm hearing from people every day who are tired of being at home, let's get out, let's explore Arizona," said Johnson.

The campaign aims to get residents to invest locally by staying at resorts, exploring the Grand Canyon, camping and other state attractions.

In 2018, there were 11 million overnight visits from Arizona residents.
This new effort of encouraging stay-cations hopes to help put people back to work.

"It was an unfamiliar sight to be at sometimes, the only persons walking around outside of the hotel," said John Glynn, marketing director with the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort.

The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort, like many others, was forced to furlough the majority of their staff.
With their rooms now filling back up, the pool now open, the hope is recovery is just around the corner.

"We are following every CDC guideline to a T," said Glynn.

Their "Stay Well" campaign commits employees to five crucial items.

  • Maintaining social distancing.
  • Washing hand often.
  • Wearing masks.
  • Staying home if sick.
  • Getting tested if symptoms arise.

"Taking temperatures, so we're taking colleague temperatures daily as they walk in," said Glynn.

Signage will inform guests throughout the property of the steps being taken to ensure their safety, like strict distancing rules in common areas like the pool.

But how consumers respond to this temporary new normal is the billion-dollar question.