PHOENIX - Visitors to Arizona and the revenue they brought increased in 2010 but tourism officials say the industry is still recovering from the recession and fallout from Senate Bill 1070.
Overall close to 37 million people visited Arizona last year, an increase of 4.5 percent from 2009. Revenue increased about 5 percent to $2.5 billion, according to new numbers from the Arizona Office of Tourism.
"Certainly the needle is moving in the right direction," said Sherry Henry, director of the Arizona Office of Tourism.
The picture is not all rosy. Numbers are still off from 2008, and hotel managers say they are still being forced to slash rates to attract customers.
"It's a function of the economy and lack of demand coming into the Valley," said Peter Ells, General Manager of the Royal Palms Hotel and Spa in Phoenix. "I think some of the SB 1070 and everything else that's detracted from tourism has hurt."
Henry says it was not so much the legislation itself, but the subsequent boycotts that delivered a blow to the industry.
"When people started boycotting Arizona that's when it became really critical," Henry said.
She and other industry officials agreed it was difficult to calculate exactly how much boycotts have cost the state.
"I don't think anyone will ever really know the full impact of 2010, but we just know that 2010 was far better than 2009, and 2011 is going to surpass 2010," Henry said.