Guest Editorial: Scottsdale Can Parlay International Tourism Into Economic Development Gains

By Recker McDowell —

Scottsdale hosted 1.7 million international tourists last year, according to a new tourism impact study released by the city earlier this month.

Those international travelers account for 15.7 percent of the 10.8 million of Scottsdale’s visitors in 2018.

This is the first study where Scottsdale tracked international visitors and their $443.9 million spending here.

That spending shows Scottsdale should be paying plenty of attention to international tourism as well as its potential economic development benefits.

Scottsdale has a national and international brand for its resorts, shopping, arts and events. The city certainly has the cultural attractions, shops, restaurants, bars, hiking and premier events to back up that reputation. Not every city has that cache.

Scottsdale leaders need to also realize that all those visitors (whether they are from New York, Miami, Shanghai or Frankfurt) can also have economic development payoffs.

There are countless stories of top executives, site selectors, entrepreneurs and innovators moving to or landing operations in a city they visited.

Among all those visitors at the Canal Convergence and other arts events or Barrett-Jackson or the Waste Management Phoenix Open could be the next job creator, innovator or entrepreneur that could fall in love with Scottsdale.

Scottsdale needs to have economic development policies and focus (including more new Class A Office space) to land those prospects. The city has missed out on several top companies and seen others leave for Tempe and the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community because they cannot find enough Class A office space in Scottsdale.

Scottsdale is blessed with the assets and attractions that attract tourists from all over the world. The city can also parlay that into attracting top talent, jobs and companies.