Governor Doug Ducey and the Arizona Office of Tourism announced 43 businesses and organizations across the state will receive a total of more than $9.4 million in Visit Arizona Initiative Partnership grant funding, which supports the relaunch or expansion of a wide variety of festivals, arts and culture and community events statewide.
From the Flagstaff Blues and Brews Festival to Chihuly in the Desert to El Tour de Tucson, this funding creates positive impacts for tourism businesses and communities in all five regions of the state.
“The Visit Arizona Initiative is boosting tourism in every part of Arizona and helping Arizonans recover from the effects of the pandemic,” said Governor Doug Ducey. “Today’s announcement is exciting news for dozens of events, destinations and organizations both large and small and rural and urban. These grant awardees, which were selected through the Arizona Office of Tourism’s competitive process, will attract more tourism to Arizona and lead to more jobs and spending in communities throughout our state.”
“With tourism being the hardest hit industry and still working to recover, we were really focused during this initial round on getting funds to communities that needed it most,” said Debbie Johnson, Director of the Arizona Office of Tourism (AOT). “We worked diligently through this process to provide support statewide and I’m proud to say we achieved that goal.”
The projects supported by Visit Arizona Initiative (VAI) funding will create jobs now and deliver return on investment on an ongoing basis.
For example, grant awardees Desert Botanical Garden and Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation’s Taliesin West are partnering to bring the world-renowned Chihuly in the Desert exhibit to both locations starting in early December. This new presentation is estimated to attract 1 million visitors, create 400 jobs and deliver $60 million in statewide economic impact.
Chihuly in the Desert (Desert Botanical Garden): “Arizona welcomed Dale Chihuly’s work in 2008 and 2013 and was extremely popular with guests from around the state and world. Presenting his return, Chihuly in the Desert, at two of Arizona’s iconic venues will be a treat for the community,” says Ken Schutz, executive director of Desert Botanical Garden. “This gracious opportunity provided by the Visit Arizona Partnership grant will help the Garden and Taliesin West increase the community’s access to world-class art and culture as well enhance its economic impact to their communities.”
Chihuly in the Desert (Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation): “We are deeply grateful to the Arizona Office of Tourism for their support of the collaborative exhibition with Desert Botanical Garden and Chihuly Studios,” said Kimberley Valentine, chief advancement officer of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. “‘Chihuly in the Desert’ provides a unique exploration of the themes that inspired two iconic artists, Frank Lloyd Wright and Dale Chihuly. Both ground their work in meaningful connections to the land, the beauty of the arts, and connections with their communities. We’re proud to include AOT in this celebration of beauty in the Arizona desert.”
North Center Productions, Inc.: VAI funding is helping to support a TV series project in Tucson. The project is estimated to have a $65 million economic impact in the first year of a potential multi-year production. On-screen destination exposure can provide a significant tourism boom, as recent successful shows such as Breaking Bad (New Mexico) and Yellowstone (Montana) have shown.
A VAI grant was also awarded to the Superior Chamber of Commerce to support expanding its 2021 Superior Mining Festival and Burro Run. Events such as this are critical to Superior’s economic vitality, where 80 percent of the businesses are in the hospitality sector. The town is also still working to recover from the impacts of the 2021 Telegraph Fire.
Superior Mining Festival and Burro Run: “Superior offers majestic surroundings and a warm, welcoming atmosphere to visitors,” said Superior Mayor Mila Besich. “Hospitality is our lifeblood and the support provided by the Visit Arizona Partnership grant will really help increase the size and attendance at this event, which our businesses rely on.”
Grant recipients across the state say this funding is critical to helping them continue to employ Arizonans and deliver the experiences that attract millions of visitors each year.
Parker Tube Float: “With over 3,000 registered participants, the Annual Parker Tube Float has the most positive impact on travel and tourism for our region,” said Melissa Newton, executive director of the Parker Regional Chamber of Commerce and Tourism. “We are excited to have the opportunity to grow this event, as it is a win for the residents and businesses throughout La Paz County.”
Flagstaff Blues & Brews Festival: “As Arizona’s largest blues festival, Flagstaff Blues & Brews brings visitors from several other states to Northern Arizona,” said Jennifer Grogan, owner of Peak Events, which puts on the event. “Two years without this and other major events have been difficult on Flagstaff businesses, so we’re very happy to be able to stage it again in 2022 with support from the VAI grant.”
El Tour de Tucson: “El Tour de Tucson is proud to showcase the great cycling in Arizona by hosting 10,000 cyclists and their families and friends in Pima County on the weekend before Thanksgiving,” said TJ Juskiewicz, executive director of El Tour de Tucson. “This grant support will allow us to deliver an amazing Arizona experience on a traditionally off-peak weekend.”
Today’s award announcements were part of a competitive grant process and funds will be available for distribution once grants are accepted and agreements between AOT and the grantee are complete. Applicants who weren’t selected this round can reapply in the second round in early 2022. Funding announcements on other competitive VAI grants are scheduled to be made in mid-November 2021.
North Central Region (Gila & Yavapai counties): $364,609 total
- Cloth & Flame*
- Mountain Bike America, LLC
- Prescott Chamber of Commerce
- Sedona Arts Center
- Sedona Mountain Bike Festival, LLC
About the Arizona Office of Tourism:
The Arizona Office of Tourism works to strengthen and grow Arizona’s economy through travel and tourism promotion, positioning Arizona as the leading tourism destination for domestic and international travelers. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, tourism employed almost 200,000 Arizonans and contributed over $3.5 billion in tax revenue to our federal, state and local economies.
About the Visit Arizona Initiative:
The Visit Arizona Initiative includes three grant programs totaling more than $60 million in funding opportunities to support the recovery and revitalization of tourism-focused organizations, businesses and events.