Virus “devastating” to Tucson’s usually strong competition season – Arizona Each day Star
“It made sense to develop a form that helped guide people’s thinking, so that they would be able to go through that process to come up with a mitigation plan,” said Dr. Theresa Cullen, the county’s health director, adding that the criteria were developed based on conversations with other cities both in and out of Arizona, and expert guidance.
She added that things could change, based on trends throughout the community, but also based on the type of event.
“We understand that even though we’re going to have overarching guidance, when there are specific types of events, we are going to have develop additional guidance,” she said.
‘It’s devastating for all of us’
Despite the efforts, officials acknowledged it’s unrealistic to expect that the festival season, particularly in the spring, will go on as normal. There are between 30 and 60 premier shows and festivals, during the stretch, depending on how you count it. Plus smaller ones, like sporting events and concerts. And typical tourism attractions, such as golf and hiking, that could be impacted.
“Tucson is evolving into a 52-week town, but the heat makes an influx of visitors come in the winter,” said Diane Frisch, Pima County’s director of attractions and tourism, who said there’s sometimes as many as seven events a weekend. “That’s the prime season for us. … With COVID, it’s devastating for all of us.”
It’s particularly devastating for a tourism industry in Pima County where there was $2.6 billion in direct spending last year. Pima County has already seen the effects of coronavirus on the local tourism industry, with a 35-40% drop in hotel revenues, according to Visit Tucson CEO and President Brent DeRaad, although he noted that is lower than other western cities.