By Kate Birchler and Joe Iturri | Point of View
Each year, Scottsdale’s visitors spend their dollars at local businesses of all sizes, from galleries and retail stores to large-scale resorts and golf courses.
Scottsdale’s nearly 11 million annual visitors support the livelihoods of over 20,000 people and leave behind an economic impact of $3.2 billion. By numbers alone, tourism has a profound, positive impact on our community.
But there are benefits that come with being a successful, vibrant tourism destination beyond these dollars and cents — benefits you don’t always see or hear about.
Scottsdale’s hospitality businesses and employees are always striving to give back to the community where we live, work and play, whether that means supporting our most vulnerable, ensuring nothing goes to waste, or planning for a brighter tomorrow. In this way, tourism can be a force for good that lifts not only our economy but also our delicate natural environment and society as a whole.
One such example is Hotel Valley Ho’s longstanding partnership with Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central and Northern Arizona, which serves as a home away from home for families with children facing medical challenges. Hotel Valley Ho donates toiletries to families staying overnight at three campuses between Phoenix and Mesa, and in recent years, hotel staff have volunteered to cook monthly meals for the families, renovate rooms, organize the kitchens and fix electrical issues.
Last month, $1 from each of Hotel Valley Ho’s viral “Showstopper” Shakes sold was donated to Ronald McDonald House Charities, and it is because of such efforts and others that Hotel Valley Ho was named the charity’s Heart of the House Honoree last month.
Many of Scottsdale’s hotels, resorts and hospitality businesses also work with Waste Not, which bridges the gap between food waste and hunger in Arizona. Waste Not picks up excess food from such businesses and delivers it to nonprofits feeding people struggling to find their next meal. M Culinary Concepts, which handles catering for some of Scottsdale’s largest tourism-driving events, donates properly stored, leftover food to Waste Not.
That partnership plays a pivotal role in the WM Phoenix Open. Tournament organizers, The Thunderbirds, are committed to operating a zero-waste event — a huge feat when feeding hundreds of thousands of spectators. Following last year’s Phoenix Open, The Thunderbirds and M Culinary donated over 4,000 pounds of unused food to local nonprofits through Waste Not. This collaboration, as well as other business partnerships, helped Waste Not recover 2.4 million meals in 2022.
The Phoenix Open may be “The Greenest Show on Grass,” but many tourism businesses seek to protect our Sonoran Desert environment. The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation not only preserves, restores and rehabilitates a cultural landmark, Taliesin West, but also aims to build a sustainable ecosystem. In 2012, the Foundation established a program to reduce energy consumption at Wright’s desert laboratory, which welcomes over 100,000 visitors each year.
Through the program, the foundation installed 4,000 solar panels that reduced the site’s power consumption by 50%. With the installation of the solar field, the foundation also minimized the impact on the desert by transplanting native cacti and other plants surrounding Taliesin West.
Environment, culture and economy are the pillars of sustainable tourism, and these are just three examples of sustainable tourism at play in Scottsdale.
There are countless stories to tell: water conservation measures at Scottsdale’s golf courses; Scottsdale Fashion Square’s nonprofit partnerships; energy-saving measures at the forthcoming Caesars Republic Scottsdale; the sustainable design of Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West; and more.
Hundreds of hospitality businesses and thousands of hospitality employees all have a stake in the health and wellbeing of our city now and into the future, and we hope you’ll learn more about our local tourism industry’s commitment to sustainability at ExperienceScottsdale.com/Sustainability.
Editor’s note: Kate Birchler and Joe Iturri are the chair and vice chair, respectively, of Experience Scottsdale’s board of directors, a volunteer body with representatives from the local tourism and business communities.