Arizona holding strong with new properties and ‘Loonie Love’
Becky Blaine, Director of Travel and Trade Relations for the Arizona Office of Tourism, can help travel agents with custom designing vacations or information on events and activities happening in the state.
Photo credit: Jean Sorensen Photo

Arizona holding strong with new properties and ‘Loonie Love’

VANCOUVER — While U.S. tourism figures took a hit and showed a 10% decline in Canadian visitations in 2015 as the American dollar squeezed the Canadian loonie, that slide isn’t reflected in Arizona’s visitations. A favourite with Canadian travellers, Arizona bucked the trend and is going strong with new deals, properties and attractions.

“Arizona went up by 3.5%,” said Becky Blaine, Arizona Office of Tourism’s new Director of Travel and Trade Relations, as she talked travel statistics comparing 2014 to 2015 figures. Blaine was in Vancouver with a delegation led by Arizona’s Director of Media Relations Tony Alba, to promote the area for the upcoming winter season.

Figures released in 2016 by AOT’s research department found that 928,051 visits were made by Canadians in 2015, up from 896,467 in 2014. Of those visits Alberta supplied 33%, Ontario 23%, B.C. 20%, Quebec 11%, Saskatchewan 6%, Manitoba 4% and the Atlantic provinces, 2%. Two-thirds (66%) arrived by air and 30% came by car or bus. The average stay in Arizona is 17.8 nights.

At the base of the continued uptick of Canadians visits is a solid and growing pack of snowbirds and retirees, a repeat market for travel agents. Demographics indicate that starting in 2017, in Canada, there will be more seniors over 65 years of age than young people.

Blaine doesn’t have an official count of how many Canadians have homes in Arizona, however Canada tracks ownership and estimates there are, as of last year, 25,000 Canadian-owned homes in Arizona. Couples or families owning homes all have the potential for car rentals, airfares and excursions. In addition there are many Canadian subsidiaries of businesses in Arizona, including the Bank of Montreal.

With Canada such a big market for Arizona, several Scottsdale hotels are offering added incentives, to make up for the dipping Canadian dollar. The successful ‘Loonie Love’ campaign offers everything from extra nights free on certain bookings, to resort credits, to free events. See LoonieLoveinScottsdale.com.

Loonie Love has been running for the past nine months and now Meghan Neighbor, Communications Director for Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, says the program will be extended until the end of December. At that time a new enhanced program will launch for 2017, again to benefit Canadians travelling to the Scottsdale area.

In other news, Allegiant Air – a major carrier into Arizona – is upgrading its fleet and has purchased 12 new Airbus A320s which will replace B757s and MD-80 aircraft beginning in 2017 and 2018. It will have converted its fleet to Airbus carriers by 2019.

Here’s a look at several new properties and attractions in Arizona:
. AC Hotel Phoenix Tempe, which opened in June 2016 and located on Tempe Town Lake, is a six-storey property with a rooftop pool and city views. It has 159 guestrooms.
. The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess opened an additional 102 new guest rooms for a total of 750 rooms as of summer 2016. The expansion also included three luxury suites, a white sand beach, a new pool, Great Lawn and new 1880s Western town with two saloons, an outdoor area and dance floor.
. Saguaro Scottsdale’s renovation is expected to be complete in October with an enhanced events and ballroom area both inside and outside. It will also include 194 renovated guest rooms that include soundproof wood doors, technology permitting guests to check in and out using their smart phones, 42” flat screen televisions and other amenities.
. Hyatt affiliate Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Spa will open November 2016 with 201 new bungalow-style guest rooms (six per cluster), with outdoor patios. Some will have outdoor showers. The resort will be designed in the 1950s desert style inspired by architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
. Sedona’s Courtyard Marriott will open September 2016 with 116 rooms.
. Opened in August, the Sedona Super 8 has been rebranded the Andante Inn of Sedona with its 66-room refurbished.
. Legoland Discovery opened at Tempe’s Arizona Mills in April 2016, while Mesa has launched its new food trail of farms and orchards to visit.

The AOT can help travel agents custom plan a holiday for a client and put agents in touch with properties and attractions. Contact Blaine at bblaine@tourism.az.gov for more information.