Grand Canyon tourism aided by ADOT-operated airport

Arizona is home to plenty of natural wonders that bring in wanderers, adventurers, and outdoors enthusiasts from all over the world. From the red rocks of Sedona to the desert trails near Tucson to the hunting and fishing opportunities in the east, Arizona sees regularly high numbers of tourists looking to do some exploring. But the big kahuna of Arizona tourism and exploring has always been, and probably always will be, the Grand Canyon.

Those living in Arizona probably choose to drive up to the natural wonder of the world, but those coming from farther away may choose to fly. And while flying into Phoenix from, say, Boise or New York or Halifax is an option, it is possible to touch down closer to the giant crack in the earth, like at the Tusayan-area airport, the state’s fourth-busiest airport in terms of passengers served.

The Grand Canyon National Park Airport is located seven miles from the south rim, offering passengers a direct route to the park itself. Owned and operated by the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), the airport hosts six air-tour companies that let visitors fly over the canyon as well as a skydiving company for those who want an even more unique look.

“The Grand Canyon National Park Airport works to be a good neighbor to the Grand Canyon National Park and the community of Tusayan by helping the local economy and tourism. The airport and its air-tour companies serve hundreds of thousands of passengers every year,” Ryan Harding of ADOT said.

Opened in 1965, the airport has helped pump up the state’s economy by making the national park more accessible to those wanting to see the Grand Canyon in a different way. Split up between three airlines coming in from the Las Vegas region, the airport plays host to about 275 commercial flights on a daily basis.

Many of the people coming through this way are travelers who are making the Grand Canyon part of a Las Vegas trip. But no matter what people have on their plate for travel plans, altogether the airport serves almost 340,000 passengers year-round, which makes for a nice chunk of change back in Arizona’s economy.

Arizona’s tourism numbers as a whole have been rising in recent years. Trendy restaurants, top quality resorts, outdoors packages, and major sporting events, like the Waste Management Open and Final Four Tournament, are helping to bring in travelers from all over.

Arizona’s lodging saw a 6.4 percent jump between June 2017 and June 2018, according to the Arizona Office of Tourism (AOT), and those numbers are expected to keep rising. And the Grand Canyon has seen a steady rise of its own, jumping from 4.3 million visitors in 2008 to 6.4 million in 2018, which means more life pumping into Arizona’s economy.

Nick Esquer

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