Arizona Municipal Leaders Talk Tourism Cooperation

By Donna Hogan, The Tribune, Mesa, Ariz.
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

Jun. 10--Attracting the lucrative tourist trade requires cooperation, not competition, local city and town officials said Wednesday.

"We are one Valley, one region, with multiple governments. If any part of the Valley fails, we all fail," Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon told Valley Hotel and Resort Association members at the organization's annual get-together with city leaders. The lunch meeting was held Wednesday at the Wyndham Buttes Resort in Tempe.

Tempe Vice Mayor Barb Carter touted the PF Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Marathon, which wound its way through Scottsdale, Phoenix and Tempe in January, as an example of how cooperation can benefit everybody.

"It was a huge economic impact to our community," Carter said. "It shows if we share responsibility, we also share rewards."

But while East Valley officials were cordial about cooperation, clearly their focuses differed.

Gordon and Scottsdale Mayor Mary Manross pushed hoteliers to support the transportation initiative on the November ballot, which includes money for the proposed light-rail system.

But Carter, Mesa Vice Mayor Claudia Walters and Paradise Valley Vice Mayor Dan Schweiker avoided the sticky issue.

Gordon said the $600 million expansion of Phoenix Civic Plaza and a new city-backed hotel, which the City Council will vote on Wednesday, will attract big conventions that will benefit the entire metro area.

Manross said revitalizing Scottsdale's downtown, including the long-awaited Waterfront Project, will be the key for her city's tourism future. She also said preserving undeveloped land is important to all of the Valley, and she called on hoteliers to push for state land reform.

Downtown revitalization is also key to Mesa's tourism industry, Walters said. "Downtown Mesa is emerging as a place to see and be seen," she said.

Carter touted more than 100 events surrounding Tempe Town Lake that attracted 2.5 million visitors last year. Next year, if Tempe gets the Ironman Triathlon, that event could generate $3 million in economic impact, she said.

For Paradise Valley, which virtually has no commercial industry except tourism, the revitalization of aging resorts is hugely important, Schweiker said. That includes Doubletree La Posada's major makeover and a hoped-for similar renovation at Mountain Shadows, which has lost its Marriott affiliation and may be doomed to be razed for homes.

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