Scottsdale begins tracking international visitors as tourism continues to rise

Scottsdale remains a tourist destination of choice – a fact confirmed in a recently-released tourism study conducted by the city’s Tourism and Events Department. According to the 2019 Scottsdale Tourism Study Visitor Statistics Report (PDF), the city saw an increase in visitors over the prior year, hosting about 200,000 more overnight and day trip visitors in 2018, totaling 9.1 million, compared to 8.9 million in 2017. 

This was also the first study to include international overnight visitors -- estimated to be about 1.7 million in 2018.

“It’s a very important group of travelers to consider. Data shows us international travelers typically stay longer based on where they traveled from and tend to spend more,” said Karen Churchard, Scottsdale’s tourism and events director. “We’ve now created a baseline in this report that will give us the resources to track those trends and have that valuable data available.” 

In 2018, visitors spent an estimated $2.1 billion in Scottsdale, compared to $1.6 billion in 2017. Their direct spending created an annual economic impact of $3.1 billion in revenue to local businesses, an increase from $2.4 billion in 2017. 

In conjunction with the Visitor Statistics Report, Scottsdale studies lodging trends using bed tax collection figures, which are consistently tracked and readily available. The Scottsdale Tourism Study Lodging Report  (PDF) looks specifically at trends in bed tax collection, room inventory, average room rates, occupancy rates and other factors related to lodging trends. It includes tax receipt figures that reflect actual sales tax and bed tax collections during the previous month and data that’s based primarily on properties located within Scottsdale. 

According to the 2019 report, Scottsdale’s bed tax revenue totaled $20,367,185 in 2018, up 7 percent from 2017. In addition, bed tax generated more than $146 million in revenue for the city and annual occupancy was 70 percent, a 1.7 percent increase from 2017. 

The Scottsdale Tourism Study draws from multiple traveling reporting agencies that track and benchmark tourism data to track economic and social impact. 

Longwoods International, a leader in tourism market research, conducted a survey of 450 visitors. Travelers were asked about their experience in Scottsdale and the results were all very positive. More than 90 percent of visitors were satisfied with their trip to Scottsdale, 83 percent planned to visit again, and 95 percent stated they would recommend Scottsdale to someone else.

On the topic of safety, 97 percent responded that they felt extremely, very or pretty safe. No one in the survey responded that they did not feel safe. 

Old Town Scottsdale was the top attraction with 61 percent visitation. People from Los Angeles, Phoenix, Chicago, and Denver topped the list of Scottsdale’s visitors.

Top 10 activities for Scottsdale visitors in 2018:

  1. Shopping 
  2. Upscale dining 
  3. Night clubs
  4. Visiting historic sites and landmarks
  5. Swimming 
  6. Visiting state parks 
  7. Museums 
  8. Casinos 
  9. Hiking
  10. Golf

For activities and experiences, the No. 1 category was shopping at 40 percent, compared to the U.S. average of 30 percent.

More information on Scottsdale’s Tourism and Events

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