Payson Seeing Increase In Tourists

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The number of tourists visiting Payson increased 25 percent in 2005.

The sharp rise in visitor numbers is part a statewide tourism boom. Last week, the Arizona Office of Tourism and Gov. Janet Napolitano announced that 31 million visitors came to the state in 2005.

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Summer weekends are marked by increased traffic as tourists pour in from around the state and country. The increase in tourist numbers means an increase in sales tax revenue, which Payson relies on for much of its infrastructure costs.

"In 2005, we registered 22,922 visitors," said Tina Bruess, executive director for the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce, then added that while one person would register, they were frequently part of a group.

"Of those, 13,170 were from within the state, 8,975 were from out-of-state and 787 were from other countries," Bruess said.

She said visitors came from all 50 states and 33 countries. Most often, foreign visitors were from the United Kingdom or Canada.

"Canada spends a lot of money advertising Arizona to its residents," Bruess said.

She said 37 percent of the area's visitors were here on day trips, but of those staying longer, they generally stayed two nights. The average party of visitors was four people.

Year-end tourism numbers for 2005 around the state, show that domestic overnight visitation increased 4.7 percent to 29.1 million, setting a record number, according to information from the Arizona Office of Tourism.

Combined with international visitation, Arizona welcomed 31 million total visitors, a net increase of 1 million visitors, according to the report. The guests' spending brought in $17.5 billion in direct travel expenditures.

Bruess said the Chamber does not track visitor spending.

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