Tuesday, November 25, 2008

AP: Arizona State Tourism Office in Hot Water

If you're a governmental body, check this out. I suggest you learn from others about bureacracy and red tape.

Decision to forgo AZ tourism guide upsets industry
The Associated Press
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 11.25.2008

A decision not to publish a 2009 visitors' guide to Arizona has angered some tourism boosters and business owners who say the state will see fewer tourists because of it.

The guide, which was 144 pages this year and is paid for with advertising, usually comes out in January. It's sent to prospective visitors who call the Arizona Office of Tourism or request it online, and it's stocked in visitor centers across the state.

Margie Emmermann, director of the Tourism Office, said she decided not to publish the guide primarily because a contract rift would delay publication.

The office awarded the contract to a Florida firm in late June but canceled it less than two months later after a formal protest by the Scottsdale-based company that had the previous contract — a protest that officials found to have merit.

Those who depend on tourism say the state can't afford to cancel its major marketing piece in a recession.

"It rather floored me," Robert Ingram, president of the Yuma Visitors Bureau, said about the decision to not publish the guide. "You have to advertise to get more people here. If I don't get my name in front of you all the time, you don't think about me."

Greg Hanss, director of sales and marketing for the new InterContinental Montelucia Resort and Spa in Paradise Valley, said he can't believe a tourism guide won't be printed this year.

"For me, the fact that we don't have a state visitors guide in what is the most challenging economic time of our tourism lives is really disappointing," he said.
Emmermann said the Tourism Office has plenty of 2008 guides and will send those out to those who request them. But there is little or nothing in the 2008 guide on the Phoenix area's new light-rail system, three high-profile hotels that just opened in greater Phoenix and events such as February's NBA All-Star Weekend.

Emmermann said Arizona's major attractions, such as the Grand Canyon, don't change much from year to year, and that if there is such a thing as a good time to skip publication, this is it. The poor economy has hurt travel demand and reduced requests for the guide by 15 percent. Plus, more people are going online to get tourism information. The 2008 guide remains online and will be updated.

Emmermann said a 2009 calendar of events will also be sent out with the 2008 guides next year.

The state is moving ahead with plans to release a 2010 visitors guide next fall, earlier than usual, and a request for proposals is due out in a few weeks. It will be conducted by the State Procurement Office and the evaluation committee will include industry officials from outside the state tourism agency.

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