Tourism on the rise in Pima County

By Diane Frisch, Attractions & Tourism Director

It’s been a busy summer, and we continue to see growing strength in Pima County tourism and visitor spending. According to the latest Arizona Travel Impact study released by the Arizona Office of Tourism, Pima County visitors spent nearly $2.4 billion during their travel in 2017. That’s an increase of about $171 million from 2016. 
Diane Frisch
In addition to visitor spending, the number of domestic overnight visitors to Tucson and Southern Arizona grew from 6 million in 2016 to 6.5 million in 2017. Similarly, local and state tax receipts generated by travel spending in Pima County rose from $197 million in 2016 to $201 million in 2017. 

This resurgence in tourism spending is vital to Pima County’s continued growth and investment back into the community. 

Pima County has a lot to offer year-round and as we round September, we’ll see an uptick in activity ranging from community events to seasonal attractions. Here are a few events and attractions you may consider visiting over the next weeks.
Chuck Huckelberry Loop 
This popular amenity is a draw for everyone looking to bike, walk, run and enjoy the great outdoors. With 131 miles of vehicle-free pathways, The Loop provides our community a great way to explore. We recently released a new art map and webpage showcasing more than four dozen pieces of art along the path. If you’re interested in making this your adventure, visit to download a PDF of the map and see the various art sites online. For other information, visit the Loop webpage.
Nightfall at Old Tucson
When it comes to haunts and frightful entertainment, no one does it better than Nightfall. This annual Halloween-themed event returns to Old Tucson Sept. 28-Oct. 31. with several new shows, haunts and attractions, including multiple performances (comedy, musical, stunts), five haunted walk-throughs and kiddie rides. There’s also a new kid-friendly walk-through, “Trick-or-Treasure” for kids 12 and under. For more details, visit
Desert foliage
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
The only place you’ll find a world-renowned zoo, natural history museum and botanical garden all in one. This museum showcases the natural landscape of the Sonoran desert region with more than 300 animal species and 1,200 plant varieties along two miles of paths traversing 21 acres of beautiful desert. 

On Sept. 30, take part of the Sonoran Desert home with you during the museum’s Fall Plant Sale, scheduled from 6:30 a.m. to noon. The sale will include more than 250 different species and highlight five special categories of plants to help you create a beautiful garden in the desert. 

Starting Oct. 20, the museum’s Raptor Free Flights return for daily shows at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. This unique exhibition gives visitors the opportunity to see and learn about the most extraordinary birds of prey as they swoop and soar in their native desert habitat while a narrator describes their behaviors and attributes. For more details on what’s happening, visit
Titan Missile Museum
If you’re a fan of a certain Paramount Pictures franchise and the name “Captain Picard” means something to you, you’ll love the upcoming Director’s Tour. Your tour guide will be the Museum’s Director and former Titan II Missile Combat Crew Commander. No other tour brings visitors this close to the missile. Located just 25 miles south of Tucson, it’s a quick trip back in history. The Titan Missile National Historic Landmark is the sole remaining Titan II Intercontinental Ballistic Missile complex of the 54 that were “on alert” during the Cold War between 1963 and 1987. For details, visit
Tucson Meet Yourself
Come for the food, stay for the culture. This free three-day festival happening Oct. 12-14 in downtown Tucson connects the public to culture through food, music, dance and folk art. This year, the celebration will occupy four city blocks and Jacome Plaza, in front of the Joel D. Valdez Main Library, where you’ll find several County departments and fun activities. 

Open until 5 p.m. each day, the Pima County Meet Yourself area inside the library invites families and kids to learn about County programs and initiatives and meet adoptable puppies and kittens from Pima Animal Care Center. Outdoors, the Pima County Meet Yourself pavilion will have an activity stage to host games, interactive demonstrations and entertainment from various County departments. We’ll also have The Loop Store open throughout the weekend selling bicycle jerseys, running shirts, Loop t-shirts, hats and sunscreen. 

For more information on the festival, visit
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