It’s time to turn up the heat on summer tourism in Arizona

By Jason Rose and Chris Giles
Special to the Independent

It’s always best to have a business that stays busy all year long. That’s not the case for one of the most important sectors of Arizona’s economy. In the Phoenix area and beyond, tourism takes a sharp nosedive during the summer. A big reason for that is nobody plans any major events over the summer.

It doesn’t have to be this way. The Scottsdale Fahrenheit Festival: Arms, Legs and Kegs has taken the bold step of setting an event on June 16th at West-World of Scottsdale, when temperatures traditionally veer toward record high territory.

A key component of that event is the “Beat the Heat” 10K and 5k road race. Organizers deliberately chose one of the hottest days of the year to take on the Arizona summer at 2:47 in the afternoon, the exact time it hit a record high of 122 degrees on June 26, 1990.

It’s a bold step, and others should be following.

Instead of fearing the heat, we should be embracing the heat. Where is it written that events and tourism need to go into hibernation when temperatures reach triple digits? Our summer heat helps define us. It doesn’t have to limit us.

More events such as the Scottsdale Fahrenheit Festival will lead to more tourist spending. They would also lead to more spending from local residents searching for something to do during the summer. We have fantastic assets in terms of resorts, lodging, and venues and it’s a shame that they are underutilized during the summer. It’s an untapped economic resource. Think of the extra jobs and commerce that would be created if tourism had more than a pulse during the summer. Local governments spend considerable sums on venues such as West-World, spring training facilities, not to mention downtown renovation. More events in the summer will bring these communities a greater return on their investments in terms of generating tax revenues.

That’s one of the reasons the city of Scottsdale has decided to support the Fahrenheit Festival, which also includes contests for pitching, jalapeno eating, arm wrestling, and a craft brew and cocktail element. Private companies invest heavily on resorts and lodging. They too could see a better return on their investments instead of being forced to drastically discount rates just to cover the costs of keeping their doors open.

The Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce realized it had a problem in terms of tourism declines during the winter. It is now marketing the Canyon for winter visitors, treating cold weather and snow as an asset instead of liability. The summer heat can be an asset as well.

People travel to Scandinavia to see the Northern Lights in the winter. Why not the Sonoran Desert in the summer?

No single event will make the Valley of the Sun a tourist destination during the summer. But the Scottsdale Fahrenheit Festival represents a step in the right direction. If runners can “Beat the Heat” responsibly, so can those whose job it is to maximize our tourism dollars. Some like it hot.

Let’s find those folks and get them to visit Arizona in June, July, and August. For more information on the Scottsdale Fahrenheit Festival go to scottsdalefahrenheitfestival.com.

Editor’s note: Mr. Rose is the president and founder of Rose+Moser+Allyn Public and Online Relations. Mr. Giles is the owner of Race Place Events, a prominent organizer of road races.

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