Tourism in Tempe, Ariz. generated $851.5 million in direct spending

Tempe, Ariz. – The Tempe Tourism Office just released the findings from a comprehensive research project, conducted by Tourism Economics, that details the economic impact of the tourism industry in Tempe. The results of this research study and 2020 Tempe Tourism award recipients were announced at the organization’s Annual Meeting, held at The Showcase Room at Culinary Dropout in Tempe on January 30, 2020.

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 in the calendar year 2018.

Research shows that 4 million visitors to Tempe in 2018 were responsible for $851.5 million in direct spending on tourism. 

Increases in Visitor Volume and Spending

According to the research, visitor volume and spending steadily increased from 2015 through 2018. There were 3.7 million visitors to Tempe in 2015 and 4 million in 2018, an increase of 8%. Visitor spending increased dramatically from $730.6 million in 2015 to $851.5 million in 2018.

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.

Types of Visitor Expenditures

Overnight visitors spent an average of $299 per trip; day trip visitors spent an average of $68 per trip.

The majority of visitors’ annual spending in Tempe was in food and beverage and retail. Visitors spent $219 million on food and beverage, $184 million on retail shopping, $173 million on local transportation, $171 million on lodging and $102 million on recreation.

Tax Revenues and Jobs

In 2018, tourism in Tempe generated $143 million in tax revenues, including $43.2 million in county and city taxes.

The tourism sector supported 9,310 jobs in Tempe. That means that one in 14 jobs, or 7% of all jobs in Tempe, were sustained by tourism.

“Tourism in Tempe continues to be a significant economic driver and a catalyst for development,” said Mayor Mark Mitchell. “This new tourism research study proves that the millions of dollars spent annually by visitors create local jobs and bring in tax revenues.  These tax dollars help to provide the services and amenities that benefit all our Tempe residents and improve our local quality of life.”


The research was conducted by Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics Company based in the U.K. and Pennsylvania. Data for 2018 was collected from several sources including:

  • Visitor profile data, volume and spending estimates provided by D.K. Shifflet, a national consumer research firm and Longwoods International;
  • 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; Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Bureau of Labor Statistics;
  • Bed tax data from the Tempe Tourism Office.

Community Partners Honored at Annual Meeting

The Tempe Tourism Office followed the announcement about the growth of the tourism industry by recognizing community partners who have made significant contributions to the city. These awards were presented by Brian McCartin, President & CEO, and Margaret Dunn, Board Chair and owner of Dunn Transportation.

Partner Appreciation Awards:

  • Alamo Drafthouse Tempe
  • Graduate Tempe

Impact Award

  • USA Triathlon

Spirit of Hospitality Award

  • Todd Tucker, Assistant General Manager of the Residence Inn by Marriott Tempe Downtown University

Chairman’s Award

  • City of Tempe Special Events Teams

For more information or a copy of the 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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