Tourism in Tempe, Ariz. generated $1 billion in business sales

Contact: Toni Smith, Director of Communications
[email protected]
800-283-6734 or 480-894-8158

Tourism in Tempe, Ariz. generated $1 billion in business sales
Research finds increased visitor volume and spending

Tempe, Ariz. – The Tempe Tourism Office released the findings from a comprehensive research project, conducted by Tourism Economics, that details the economic impact of the tourism industry in Tempe.

This study, which quantifies the importance of tourism in Tempe, found that 3.7 million visitors to Tempe in 2015 spent $730.6 million in direct expenditures. When combining that amount of direct spending with indirect and induced impacts, tourism in Tempe generated $1 billion in total business sales.

The study, “The Economic Impact of Tourism in Tempe, Arizona,” provides a detailed look at the positive effect of tourism in terms of visitor spending, income, employment and tax revenues. The research is based on data from calendar year 2015 and was conducted by Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics Company based in the U.K. and Pennsylvania. Data was collected from several sources including:

  • Visitor profile data, volume and spending estimates provided by D.K. Shifflet, a national consumer research firm;
  • Smith Travel Research (STR) on hotel room demand, supply, revenues, average prices and occupancy rates;
  • U.S. Census data for sales and employees by industry;
  • Bed tax data from the Tempe Tourism Office.

Increases in Visitor Volume and Spending

In this study, visitors are defined as travelers who stayed in overnight accommodations or travelers on a day trip to Tempe. The day trip visitors traveled at least 50 miles to get to Tempe on a trip that was not part of their normal routine. On average, overnight visitors stayed for 3 nights.

According to the research, “the visitor economy in Tempe is expanding and generating business sales, employment, income and tax revenues.” Visitor volume and spending steadily increased from 2011 through 2015. There were 3.084 million visitors to Tempe in 2011 and 3.7 million in 2015, an increase of 20%. Visitor spending increased dramatically from $572 million in 2011 to $730.6 million in 2015.

Types of Visitor Expenditures

Overnight visitors spent an average of $281 per trip; and day trip visitors spent an average of $64 per trip.

The majority of visitors’ annual spending in Tempe was in food and beverage and retail. Visitors spent $181 million on food and beverage, $161 million on retail shopping, $155 million on local transportation, $142 million on lodging and $92 million on recreation.

Tax Revenues and Jobs

In 2015, tourism in Tempe generated $122 million in tax revenues, including $36.2 million in local taxes.

The tourism sector supported 8,467 jobs in Tempe. That means that one in 13 jobs, or 7.9% of all jobs in Tempe, were sustained by tourism. Tourism is a significant part of several industries, directly supporting nearly all employment in lodging, 40.5% of recreation, 19.4% of food and beverage, and 6.1% of retail. In addition, Tempe employees earned a total of $307 million as a result of visitor activity.

“The City of Tempe recognizes tourism as a significant economic driver and a catalyst for development,” said Mayor Mark Mitchell. “This new tourism research study quantifies that impact by showing the direct link between visitors’ spending, business sales, jobs and local tax revenues.”

For more information or a copy of study “The Economic Impact of Tourism in Tempe, Arizona,” please contact Toni Smith at 480-894-8158 or [email protected]. Interviews with Brian McCartin, President/CEO of the Tempe Tourism Office, can also be arranged upon request.


The Tempe Tourism Office is a non-profit organization devoted to marketing Tempe, Arizona as a desirable visitor and group destination site. To learn more about Tempe, please call 480-894-8158 or visit us at


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