More lift for Arizona sun-seekers, with new gateways opening up
From left to right: Joanna Tejeda, travel trade consultant for the Arizona Office of Tourism, Marjorie Magnusson, media relations for the tourism office, and Charmaine Singh, Canadian representative for the office (all photos courtesy Jean Sorensen)

More lift for Arizona sun-seekers, with new gateways opening up

VANCOUVER — Western Canadian sun-seekers will find more gateways open this fall as ultra low-cost carrier Flair Airlines flies from several Canadian cities to Phoenix and, for the first time, Tucson.

“We are increasing capacity to Arizona,” said the Arizona Office of Tourism’s Canadian representative, Charmaine Singh. Based in Toronto, Singh is leading an Arizona delegation of tourism representatives to meet with Vancouver travel agents October 18, the first of two planned information sessions in the city.

Ultra low-cost carriers aren’t known for working with travel advisors or for paying commission. ULCCs do open up new markets though, stimulating demand from underserved gateways. Flair stepping into the market is not viewed as a bid to take market share from existing carriers WestJet, Air Canada and Swoop who have long been loyal to the Arizona market, delivering Canadian snowbirds and sun-seekers. Rather, Flair is seen as expanding the market, pushing into new departure gates and destinations.

More lift for Arizona sun-seekers, with new gateways opening up

Cindy Aguilar, communications manager, Visit Tucson

“Arizona has been a popular destination and Flair is seeing that and getting in on the action,” said Marjorie Magnusson, media relations for the Arizona Office of Tourism.  The gateways offered by Flair are markets that WestJet and Air Canada have not traditionally served. “We are encouraged by the added capacity,” she said.

Flair’s new gateways to Tucson International are: Edmonton International, twice weekly service starting Nov. 30; Fort McMurray, twice weekly service starting Nov. 30; Lethbridge, once weekly service starting Dec. 1, Prince George, once weekly service starting Dec. 2; and Windsor, once weekly starting Dec. 1. Service will run to either March 23 or March 24, depending on the destination.

In addition, Flair will fly Vancouver to Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport (AZA) starting in December; Edmonton to AZA starting in late October; and Toronto to AZA starting in November.

The move further east into cities such as Windsor and Toronto brings greater Arizona offerings to areas where it has traditionally not been viewed as a sun destination to the same degree as it is in Western Canada, with many here having second homes or long-stay rentals in the sun spot.

Meanwhile Air Canada flies to Phoenix five times weekly from Vancouver, Calgary twice daily, Toronto twice daily, and Montreal four times a week.

WestJet will start flying to Phoenix in late October out of Vancouver, and also has Edmonton and Calgary departures, with Toronto flights expected to resume service in late October.

Swoop is flying to AZA twice weekly out of Edmonton, with flights from Winnipeg resuming in November.

Cindy Aguilar, communication manager for Tucson, said the area has much to offer, from guest ranches to golf courses to a wine region. Travel agents looking for itineraries can access Tucson’s website at VisitTucson.org.

The area has seen a number of hotel changes. The Eddy Hotel, a 106-room boutique hotel located just minutes from midtown, is expected to open February 2023. The Eddy Hotel is a Tapestry brand, a franchise of Hilton Hotels, and guests can use their Hilton rewards and Hilton’s online site for reservations.

The newly redesigned spaces at Omni Tucson National Resort are expected to open in the first quarter of 2023. Host of the annual PGA Tour Champions Cologuard Classic, the newly imagined resort will feature updates to the lobby, restaurants and lounge, meeting space, spa, fitness centre, casitas, and haciendas.

In July 2022, Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch Resort, a Forbes four-star resort, finished a multi-year renovation on the property, that included the addition of 40 new guestrooms spanning seven new buildings with views of both the Santa Catalina Mountains and Rincon Mountains; a brand new pool area with a 40-foot lap pool, an infinity edge wading pool, a large sun deck; and the debut of a new Sonoran Desert-focused spa.

Every year, Canadian snowbirds are estimated to add about $1.4 billion to the Arizona economy, according to the Canada Arizona Business Council. Many own or rent property in the U.S. However, Canadian snowbirds have a limited amount of time per year they can spend in the U.S. Current immigration law allows them to stay up to 180 days, or six months total. The Canadian Snowbird Act is trying to change that as U.S. Senate Bill 2096 would extend the amount of time a Canadian can stay to 240 days.