Debbie Johnson, Arizona Office of Tourism

from Debbie Johnson

By its very nature, tourism is synonymous with escapism and fun. But getting people to choose Arizona for their vacations and conventions is serious business. Marketing the state as a tourism destination involves way more than touting our much-lauded climate, and it yields economic impact far beyond the hotel check-in desk.

Tourism is Arizona’s No. 1 export and one of the state’s largest job creators. Visitors collectively spend $58 million in Arizona each day. That spending keeps our taxes lower, enhances our quality of life and sustains nearly 180,000 jobs across the state.

In fact, tourism supports more jobs in Arizona than nearly every other employment sector, including banking, real estate, manufacturing, construction and mining. And since the Arizona experience can’t be shipped overseas, neither can the tourism jobs associated with it.

Tourism helps create jobs in another way, too: It’s the front door to economic development and business relocation. Because before business owners plant roots in Arizona, they must first fall in love with Arizona. And that almost always starts with a visit.

My colleagues at the Valley cities’ convention and visitors bureaus as well as the operators at popular destinations helped In Business Magazine editor RaeAnne Marsh put together a fresh look at the breadth of this industry and the significant place it holds in our local and statewide economy. The cover story on tourism, I hope, gives readers an understanding of changes in the industry and the market it serves.

Beyond the cover story, this month’s issue explores several topics relevant to those of us in the tourism industry.

Motivation is a key factor in all aspects of business. Shari Levitin examines its role in human behavior and applies her insights on purpose to the topic of businesses selling products and services for the feature “Core Motivators of Human Behavior.” Sales of businesses, themselves, is another “sales” topic, and activity of that nature is the subject of this issue’s By the Numbers feature.

As businesses continue to be concerned with healthcare, wellness programs proliferate. On the Healthcare page, one business shares the success story of one of its programs.

Coming very soon — July 1 — are changes in sick-time rules that impact employers. This issue’s Legal feature discusses those changes and what employers need to be aware of.

I’m proud of tourism’s leading role in Arizona’s business community, and I’m pleased to help bring you this issue of In Business Magazine. I hope you enjoy the read.


Debbie Johnson
Arizona Office of Tourism

Debbie Johnson has spent more than two decades working in the tourism industry in Arizona. She was appointed by Governor Doug Ducey as director of the Arizona Office of Tourism in August 2015 to oversee the state’s tourism marketing strategy. Prior to that she served as president and CEO of the Arizona Lodging & Tourism Association and Valley Hotel & Resort Association. 

Johnson serves on numerous boards and committees dedicated to the tourism industry at the state and national levels. She was inducted into the Arizona Tourism Hall of Fame in 2011, and has also been honored as both the Arizona Tourism Champion of the Year and the Phoenix Visitor Industry Champion. 

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