Feb 262014

By Tammy Gray
If hotel room occupancy rates are a good indicator of tourism activity, then tourism increased in Navajo County in 2013.
According to numbers recently provided by the Arizona Office of Tourism, lodging occupancy rates were up by 12.8 percent in December 2013, compared to December 2012. Room demand during the month of December, one of the slowest months for tourism in the region, was 39,372 in 2013, compared to 34,892 in 2012. Room rates were down by 2.2 percent, but estimated lodging revenues were up by 10.4 percent.
Over the course of 2013, the improvement over the previous year was not as dramatic as in December, but still showed an upward trend. The room occupancy rate was up by 4.3 percent in 2013, as compared to 2012, with occupancy averaging 52.4 percent throughout the year. The average daily rate for rooms was also up for the year by 4.5 percent, with rooms averaging $72.78 per night. Estimated lodging revenue was up by nine percent for the year, and room demand increased by 3.6 percent, compared to 2012. According to the report, the available number of hotel rooms in Navajo County changed very little in 2013, dropping by six-tenths of a percent.
Statewide, hotel occupancy was up by an average of 1.5 percent, with the metro Phoenix area seeing an increase of 2.7 percent and most non-metro areas experiencing a decrease of eight-tenths of a percent, compared to Navajo County’s increase of 4.3 percent.
Tourism revenues were up in other areas across the state, as well, as of December 2013, with dining and bar expenditures up by 3.2 percent, retail by 7.8 percent and amusement by nine-tenths of a percent.
The Arizona Office of Tourism indicated, however, that the total number of visitors arriving by air decreased by one percent. Visitors arriving by car increased, with average daily vehicle traffic increasing by two percent for visitors entering the state from New Mexico on Interstate 40.
Visitation to national parks throughout the state increased by 9.6 percent, with more than 2.8 million tourists visiting Grand Canyon National Park. Visitation at Petrified Forest National Park was on track to increase over the previous year, but fell short by about 20,000 visitors due to the federal government shutdown in October. The visitation rate at the park in 2013 was one of the highest since 2000, with only 2010 and 2012 exceeding 2013 rates.
State park visitation saw a much smaller increase than national parks, and was up by seven-tenths of a percent. The five most visited parks in the state were Lake Havasu, Slide Rock, Patagonia Lake, Catalina and Kartchner Caverns.