Tourism & Arizona
The tourism industry is one of the largest industries in Arizona. A few economic indications from a recent report by Dean Runyan and Associates support this:
- Direct travel spending in Arizona generated 166,900 jobs with earnings of $5.0 billion in 2008.
- The travel industry has been one of the top two export-oriented industries (the other is micro-electronics) in the state in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
- Only retail trade has a higher proportion of indirect business taxes (sales, property taxes & other business payments to government) in relation to industry GDP. However, in contrast to the travel industry, the sales taxes paid by retail establishments are primarily taxes on residents rather than visitors.
However, the tourism industry is much more than wages, jobs and tax revenues. While these economic indicators are frequently used to measure its value, the tourism industry has significant roles in determining social, cultural and environmental qualities of community life, for everyone, in every community. Everyone is a consumer of travel and hospitality services (from restaurants, to retail, to buses and airplanes) and everyone is aware of the impacts of travelers on our lives (from drive-through travelers, to overnight resort guests, to visiting friends and families).
The Center for Sustainable Tourism's (CST) strategic initiative focuses on Arizona community development. The community is where the action is for managing tourism development and for enhancing residential quality of life. For residents the community is a neighborhood; for tourists it is a destination. Communities and their residents have considerable control over the volume, type and extent of tourism through its product development, regulations, infrastructure and marketing. For community development, tourism, like every other industry, is a means to an end. The “end” is sustainable quality of community life.
The long-term mission of CST is to understand the many roles tourism plays in the community, locally and globally. The vision of CST is to document research findings and use them in order to focus this giant tourism engine on enhancing the quality of life, one community at a time.
Our vision is that the effects of social, environmental and economic impacts of tourism on the community quality of life can be quantified and monitored. We are convinced that the values of social, cultural and environmental assets to community residents can be measured. The measurement process will be different for each community because the tourism product differs and because residential values differ.
Quantified values can be added together in a Triple Bottom Line accounting system and can be more effective than sustainability indicators alone, because they give a single decision variable which encompasses community preferences for choosing optimal sustainable development paths.