The Arizona Office of Tourism (AOT) was established by Laws 1978, Chapter 180. Statutory authority can be found at A.R.S. §§41-2301 et seq.
The AOT is responsible for promoting and developing tourism in Arizona. The AOT is led by a director, appointed by the governor, along with an assistant director chosen by the director with the governor’s approval. The director must have at least five years of management experience in the tourism and travel industry, understanding of the technical elements of the tourism industry, and experience in marketing or public relations. The director is responsible for promoting and developing tourism business, conducting a marketing campaign on the attractions of the state, and promoting this information through state, national, and international media.
The director is assisted and advised by the Tourism Advisory Council. The Council consists of fifteen members, appointed by the governor. The members must be from recreational and tourist attractions, transportation and hospitality, other tourism-related businesses, and the general public. There must be at least one member from each of the six geographical planning areas, as follows: Area 1 Maricopa; Area 2 Pima; Area 3 Apache, Coconino, Navajo, Yavapai; Area 4 Mohave, Yuma; Area 5 Gila, Pinal; Area 6 Graham, Greenlee, Cochise, Santa Cruz.
Responsibility for tourism development was originally part of the Office of Economic Planning and Development (OEPAD), Division of Development. In January of 1975, Governor Castro delivered his first address to the legislature, and recognized Arizona’s deepening economic problems. His first suggestion for addressing these problems was to place a greater emphasis on tourism.
In March of 1975, Governor Castro issued Executive Order 75-3, which created a separate Office of Tourism. The new office assumed responsibility for all tourism programs of the OEPAD, and was charged with developing tourism campaigns to promote the state’s recreational, natural, and historical attractions via state and national media. The AOT was also directed to conduct research, disseminate information, formulate policies, accept grants and disburse funds, to become the clearinghouse for all data relating to tourism in Arizona. However, OEPAD continued to perform administrative duties until the Office of Tourism was statutorily enacted in 1978.
Laws 1978, Chapter 180 established the Office of Tourism, led by a director, appointed by the governor. The director was responsible for promoting and developing tourism business, and conducting promotional campaigns. The director was also required to appoint an assistant director, with approval from the governor. The Tourism Advisory Council was composed of fifteen members, appointed by the governor, serving five-year terms, to assist and advise the director with establishing the budget, policies, and programs. The council members included representatives from recreational and tourist attractions, hospitality and transportation industries, other tourism-related businesses, and the general public. The council was required to have at least one member from each of the six geographical planning areas of the state.
Laws 1982, Chapter 155 expanded the powers and duties of AOT. This law authorized charging fees for services and publications, and engaging in joint ventures with private corporations specifically designed to further the goals of AOT.
Laws 1988, Chapter 271 established the Tourism Fund, consisting of general fund appropriations to promote tourism in the state.
Laws 1996, Chapter 285 added qualification requirements for the director. The director must have at least five years of management experience in the domestic and international tourism and trade industry; a fundamental understanding of the technical elements of the tourism industry; and experience in either marketing or public relations.
Laws 1998, Chapter 241 created the AOT Workshop Fund to be used for the Governor’s tourism conference and other projects according to legislative appropriation. This fund was repealed by Laws 2019, Chapter 79.
In 2000, legislation was enacted establishing the Tourism and Sports Authority, subject to approval by the voters. In addition, legislation was adopted that reformulated the funding for AOT. See Laws 2000, Chapter 372 and Laws 2000, Chapter 375.
Laws 2001, Chapter 231, expanded the powers and duties of AOT to include cooperating with the Arizona-Mexico Commission in the governor’s office, and with researchers at Arizona’s universities, for data collection and special projects assessing and enhancing Arizona’s economic stance in the Arizona-Mexico region.
In 2010, two measures modified the funding formula and the revenue sources dedicated to the Tourism Fund. In addition, the ATO was allowed to use 50 percent of the revenues deposited into the Tourism Fund for operational and administrative purposes. See Laws 2010, Chapter 128 and Laws 2010, Seventh Special Session, Chapter 12.
Laws 2019, Chapter 165 required the AOT to contract with a promotion and marketing vendor that has specific expertise to promote and market a special sporting event (defined as an event sanctioned by a nationally recognized premier national auto racing series governing body). The measure also outlined a competitive solicitation process.
- A.R.S. §§41-2301 et seq. (Enacted as §§41-2251 et seq., renumbered pursuant to §41-1304.02)
- Session Laws
- Laws 1978, Chapter 180
- Laws 1982, Chapter 155
- Laws 1988, Chapter 271
- Laws 1996, Chapter 285
- Laws 1998, Chapter 241
- Laws 2001, Chapter 231
- Laws 2010, Seventh Special Session, Chapter 12
- Laws 2019, Chapter 79 and Chapter 165
Executive Order, No. 75-3, Governor Castro (1975)
Executive Order, No. 76-1, Governor Castro (1976)
Performance Audit of the Arizona Office of Economic Planning and Development, Auditor General, Report 81-3 (1981)
Performance Audit of the Arizona Office of Tourism, Auditor General, Report 00-11 (2000)
Arizona Office of Tourism website
Related Resources at Archives
- RG 32, Tourism, Office of
- RG 36, Arizona Office of Economic Planning and Development