Feb 27, 2013 10:15 AM by Ryan Haarer

Pima County takes a new approach to drawing in tourists

TUCSON- People in the tourism industry say vacationers are looking for more than just a relaxing day by the pool. The county is trying to make that happen but they'll need your help.

"More and more what people are looking for is an experience when they go to a resort or a destination like this," said Brian Johnson, Managing Director at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort.

According to the county, tourism revenue has declined almost 40 percent since 2007. a byproduct of the recession, hotels, restaurants and attractions are looking to move forward.

"We've made all the cuts. We've made the cuts that we can in government, we've made the cuts that we can in the business. The issue we have now is a revenue issue and what we have to do is we have to create opportunities that are going to generate revenue," said, Johnson.

The county wants to create those opportunities through geo-tourism.

"Geo tourism is really trying to capitalize on a market that is out there for people who want to come to a particular region and learn a lot about that region. Either its history, its culture or its archeology, astronomy," said Chuck Huckelberry, Pima County Administrator.

That's right, education based vacations with the help of University of Arizona resources. Don't worry, your kids will want to go to. The plan would put millions into improving some of the biggest family friendly attractions in Southern Arizona.

"The Pima Air and Space Museum, it is world renowned for its aircraft display. But it has a very small space component. 8 million dollars of this bond issue would build a very sizable space exploration display area," said Huckelberry.

The bond would need to be approved by you, the voter in 2014. It comes in at 30 million dollars; an investment experts say could provide a big return.

"There's over 16,000 rooms in this city. Tourism alone generates over 2 billion dollars a year. We are losing market share to our competitors. And this bond package will help gain some of that market share back," said Johnson.

The County is already working with the University to develop a concept for a geotourism center where visitors would get more information on just about any topic that makes the Old Pueblo so special.


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