By Rachel Sacco
The past two years were the hardest the global travel and tourism industry faced.
After the hardships of initial closures, hospitality businesses faced continued job losses. New variants dashed hopes for the return of meetings business. Prolonged restrictions delayed international travels.
Now that people have begun traveling and meeting once again, the industry can finally move on from the past two years and set its sights on the future.
The “Future of Travel” is the theme of this year’s National Travel and Tourism Week, from May 1 to May 7.
For Experience Scottsdale, that future is more competitive, inclusive and sustainable.
The travel and tourism industry has a storied history in Scottsdale, dating back to the late 1800s, when people sought the rejuvenating and healing nature of the desert at medical camps that later gave way to inns and resorts. Scottsdale’s first industry remains one of its largest and most important today. But the pandemic altered the face of the industry. The needs of travelers and their expectations for destinations are no longer what they once were.
Experience Scottsdale is ensuring that, even as travelers evolve, Scottsdale remains a desirable destination — one that will attract new and repeat visitors without ever risking the Sonoran Desert we call home.
Before the pandemic, Scottsdale welcomed 11 million visitors annually who left behind an economic impact of $3.3 billion. Tourism is an incredibly fierce industry, as cities and towns around the globe compete for the same visitors and their impactful dollars.
As other destinations increase their budgets and ramp up their promotions, Experience Scottsdale’s work becomes more challenging. To stay ahead of the competition, we will lean into digital trends, working with digital media outlets and enhancing our website’s mobile experiences.
As consumers see our advertisements — whether online or on TV — we will capture and hold their attention with imagery and messaging that showcases a wider range of diverse backgrounds and experiences.
Industry research has shown that younger generations of travelers want to support brands that represent their values. Because of that, championing diversity, equity and inclusion is a gateway to growth for the tourism industry.
Experience Scottsdale spent the past two years instilling these values into the fabric of our organization and educating local hospitality businesses on their importance. This ongoing effort will position Scottsdale as a more welcoming city, opening doors to new customers who have never considered the destination.
Experience Scottsdale will continue adding inclusive imagery to our website and social media channels and partnering with influencers and writers who identify as people of color and LGBTQ+ to help tell our destination’s story from more perspectives.
Ideally, these efforts and others will lead to those millions, both new and repeat visitors alike, traveling to Scottsdale. Yet we must be mindful that our thriving tourism destination is in a delicate, natural environment. The prevalence of climate change and overtourism has travelers reconsidering how and where they travel — with many choosing more sustainable brands and experiences.
Fortunately, local hospitality businesses have long been mindful of protecting our Sonoran Desert setting with innovative, green practices. Experience Scottsdale will lean into messaging about sustainable and responsible tourism so that visitors understand their role in visiting a destination where increasing temperatures and drought are major areas of concern.
The travel and tourism industry is Scottsdale’s past and present. Join Experience Scottsdale this National Travel and Tourism Week as we recognize that tourism is a critical component of Scottsdale’s future as well. Rachel Sacco is the president and CEO of Experience Scottsdale, which establishes Scottsdale as a year-round, luxury travel destination.