The Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association recognized Arizona leaders who impact the state’s tourism industry, and ultimately its economic prosperity.
The honorees were presented at the Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association’s (AzLTA) Arizona Tourism Unity Dinner earlier this week.
“Ours is a vast industry comprised of world class resorts, hotels, sports teams and venues, airlines, attractions, arts, culture and culinary and hundreds of businesses supplying goods and services to the entities- an economic ecosystem that is truly the lifeblood of our great state,” said Kim Sabow, Arizona Lodging & Tourism Association president and CEO.
Sabow was the emcee for the Unity Dinner along with Jaime Molera, partner at Molera Alvarez.
Molera told the attendees, “All of you here tonight are instrumental in our mission, elevating our industry’s voice of advocacy and enhancing the operating environment of our businesses.”
Michael Bidwill, Arizona Cardinals president, received the Honoree of the Year award for his contributions to Arizona and its tourism industry.
“This state, and I think everybody here- I’m singing to the choir- this is the best state in the United States,” Bidwill said.
Bidwill was instrumental in facilitating Arizona’s hosting of Super Bowl XLIX in 2015 and attracting Super Bowl LVII set for 2023.
“We’ve got great infrastructure. That airport, the sports facilities we have, all the great resorts and spas that we have here, the restaurants. It’s such a wonderful place to visit throughout the year,” Bidwill told attendees.
Don Brandt, Pinnacle West Capital Corporation chairman of the board, president and CEO and Arizona Public Service chairman of the board and CEO, received the Lifetime Achievement Award.
“His effort with institutions such as the McCain Institute, the Phoenix Art Museum and Greater Phoenix Leadership have strengthened the arts, culture, quality of life and economic development milestones for our great state,” Molera said.
“I’ve got a team of 6,300 around the state. It’s an honor to accept this award and I wouldn’t be here without them whether they’re in Douglas, Arizona or Yuma or Flagstaff or Globe mountain or here in Phoenix. It’s those men and women that get out and carry the flag and do so much for the communities,” Brandt said.
Visit Tucson, the convention and visitors bureau for Greater Tucson, was honored as the Tourism Leader of the Year.
Brent DeRaad, Visit Tucson president and CEO, invited his team on the stage to accept the award alongside him.
“We’ll always market, sell and promote the destination but what it comes back to is being engaged in the community,” DeRaad said.
The Arizona-Mexico Commission (AMC) was honored as AzLTA’s first Global Partner of the Year.
“The Arizona-Mexico Commission celebrates 60 years of such work in strengthening impactful ties with Arizona’s number one trade partner and tourism partner,” Molera said.
The AMC collaborates with Mexico, especially Sonora to strengthen economies and improve the quality of life for those on both sides of the border.
“All of you know that the Arizona-Mexico Commission directly contributes to our state’s prosperity. We need to enhance and enrich it,” said Jessica Pacheco, AMC board president.
She said, “I ask you all this evening to help us in ratifying the USMCA agreement. If you see any of our congress people, please ask them to ratify the agreement. It is imperative to increasing and enhancing our prosperity.”
The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is the trade pact intended to succeed NAFTA, and it is expected to expand Arizona’s economy and strengthen trade with Canada and Mexico.
Westroc was recognized as the Hotelier of the Year. State Sen. Sean Bowie of District 18 and State Sen. David Livingston of District 22 were honored as the 2019 Tourism Advocates.
The Arizona Tourism Unity Dinner was held at the JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa.