Brewer paints unattractive picture of Arizona for tourism industry

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We learned Tuesday that tourism in Arizona took a dramatic 10% drop last year. And that was before all the controversy this year over immigration laws and more. Hundreds who work in the industry gathered in Tucson to find solutions.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer addressed a group of more than 400 professionals from Arizona's tourism industry who have suffered through an economic downturn and a statewide boycott due to SB 1070, "Despite the issue of boycotts or negative publicity, the tourism industry must stay committed to the long term brand that is uniquely Arizona."

The conference at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort included dozens of closed-door sessions where tourism workers could learn more about how to grow their business, but the 1070 boycotts took center stage.

"I mean that's really the bottom line for us is this boycott that was called by Raul Grijalva has been very very challenging for our industry as people have chosen to cancel their meetings and move forward," says Debbie Johnson of the AZ Hotel & Lodging Association.

The threat of the boycott aside, much has also been made of comments the governor made recently about body parts being found in the desert, "Well I believe there has been findings of body parts in the desert. And certainly we know that in Mexico there have been beheadings."

Tourism officials acknowledge that's not the most positive image the governor could paint of Arizona, "We have been in communication with the governor's office. They've been very understanding of our issues about communicating from a visitor point of view and they're communicating from a political point of view, and so we're just trying to merge those two together."

The key word is, 'trying.'

Democratic legislator Paula Aboud argues what the governor said Tuesday was not enough, "I was looking for somebody that was going to inspire this industry to move forward and to move beyond the problems.  And it was missing."

When the news conference became too political, security stepped in, "Excuse me we've got to cut this. No more questions we've got to close down the room thank you."

In the meantime, those in the tourism industry continue to brainstorm ideas about how to thrive while stuck in this challenging political climate.