Out-of-state cyclists visiting Arizona for bicycling events contribute the equivalent of a tall drink of water to the economy of this arid region.
A report just published by the Arizona Department of Transportation concludes that out-of-state bicyclists bring in $88 million annually in economic benefits to Arizona.
The influx of cyclists led to the creation of more than 700 jobs statewide during the year studied. Four hundred were related to bicycle tourism, while the rest came from retail sales at bike shops, as well as the manufacturing and wholesale sectors.
The state bicycle and pedestrian coordinator Michael Saunders said:
“Every dollar that came in to Arizona added up to a major economic advantage for our state and helped define Arizona as a destination state for bicycling. … Out-of-state visitors clearly import dollars into Arizona.”
The report, entitled An Economic Impact Study of Bicycling on Arizona, recommends the state tourism department “maximize” its efforts to promote bicycling in Arizona. The authors also recommend that small towns encourage bicycling events; right now most events that draw out-of-staters are in Phoenix and Tucson.
There are some 250 bicycling events in Arizona annually that draw 14,000 participants from out of state. When the friends or family members and accompany the participants are included, the events bring in more than 36,000 people.
Meanwhile, an estimated 39,000 Arizona residents ride in these events. The local and statewide economic impact of their participation wasn’t factored into the study, however.
The types of events included road biking, triathlons, cyclocross and mountain biking. Organized bicycle tours is another category of “event,” as are visits by professional cycling teams for training camps.
Oddly, “independently recreating bicyclists” were not considered in the study.
Triathlons drew the most participants from out of state to Phoenix and Central Arizona, while road biking was most popular in Tucson and northern Arizona.
The charity ride El Tour de Tucson, which draws 9,000 cyclists from across the US every Thanksgiving weekend, is the largest annual bicycling event in the state.
More state tourism or transportation departments should consider making the effort to study the economic impact of bicycling on their states. I’d think they’d be surprised by the revenue and jobs created by bicycling and realize they should devote more energy to promoting recreational cycling.