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  • Southern Arizona Attractions Alliance honors former Old Tucson operator

    Jan 20, 2015 | Read More News
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    nivison awardThe Southern Arizona Attractions Alliance at its annual meeting Jan. 8 presented Robert “Bob” Shelton, former operator of Old Tucson, with the David J. Nivison Award for Excellence in Tourism.

    Bob Shelton, a land developer from Kansas City, came to Tucson in 1959, looking for a place to start an “Old West” tourist attraction and found what he was looking for after seeing the Old Tucson film set. He formed the Old Tucson Company, invested his own money into the property and operated the Western movie studio until 1985. 

    “Bob Shelton was Tucson’s movie man. During his 26 years at Old Tucson, he built up the annual visitation at the attraction to be second only to the Grand Canyon,” said Tom Moulton, Director of Economic Development & Tourism at Pima County. “He became friends with the Duke (John Wayne), Elizabeth Taylor, and many other actors, producers and directors and attracted movie-after-movie to Tucson.” 

    The timing for the recognition could not have been better. This year, Old Tucson celebrates its 75th anniversary as Tucson’s Hollywood in the Desert. Old Tucson is pleased to move Shelton’s legacy forward while also incorporating a focus on the history, heritage, and culture of Southern Arizona with the support of the Arizona Sonora Western Heritage Foundation.

    Established in 1998, the Southern Arizona Attractions Alliance is a nonprofit membership organization comprised of the region’s top attractions, dedicated to cooperatively promoting tourism and visitation in southern Arizona. The alliance’s many cooperative marketing initiatives include the popular Tucson Attractions Passport, which offers more than $400 worth of admission and store discounts at member attractions. The Alliance works in close partnership with the Visit Tucson and Pima County to accomplish its mission. Visit

    About the David J. Nivison Award for Excellence in Tourism

    The David J. Nivison Award for Excellence in Tourism was established in 2005 by the Southern Arizona Attractions Alliance in memory of marketing colleague David J. Nivison, who died unexpectedly in early January 2004.  During his dynamic and successful career, Nivison marketed top regional attractions Old Tucson Studios and Biosphere 2.

    2005: Rudy Chabolla, VP of Cultural Tourism, Metropolitan Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau

    2006: Gov. Janet Napolitano in recognition of her Arizona Treasures campaign

    2008: Rich Fedele, Marketing and Public Outreach manager, Kitt Peak National Observatory

    2009: Founding members of SAAA, Ed Harrow, former executive director of Pima Air and Space Museum, Tom Moulton, director of Economic Development & Tourism for Pima County, and Pat Tierney, retired president & CEO of the Metropolitan Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau

    2010: Jack C. Camper, former president of the Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce

    2012: Robert “Bob” Walkup, former mayor of Tucson and Anne Maxon, Tucson Visitors Center

    2013: J. Felipe Garcia, executive vice president, Visit Tucson

    2014: State Sen. Olivia Cajero Bedford, District 3, and Richard Vaughan, former senior VP of Sales & Marketing for Visit Tucson