Tourism up across Arizona, including rural counties

- Arizona continues to be a popular destination for travelers. This past year, tourism numbers went up and the trend is continuing in 2017. But it's not just Arizona's major cities seeing an increase in visitors. Rural areas are benefiting as well.

Governor Doug Ducey's office announced this week that Arizona's lodging industry is booming -- performing better than the national average in several areas this year.

"All of Arizona is doing well. Look, the state has a lot to offer. From national parks like the Grand Canyon to state parks, we've got proximity to Mexico if you want to take a two nation vacation, so Arizona has a lot to offer statewide," said Garrick Taylor of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce.

Vern and his wife are visiting Arizona from Canada. They'll stay for a month.

"We came down for the good weather and recreation. We like to hike in the mountains and enjoy the sunshine," he said.

So we have the nice weather, the outdoor activities and plenty of events like the Spring Training games that bring in millions of people every year.

"Most games, we sell about 12,000 fans per game here," said Jake Whitcomb, Spring Training Operations Manager for the  San Francisco Giants.

Whitcomb says they sell tickets and prepare for the out-of-towners weeks in advance.

"It's more a vacation feel and it's a more intimate setting. Players are able to interact with fans more easily because there's more opportunities for autographs, you can get closer to the field."

Hotels around the area are also feeling the increase.

"Our demand has been really strong in January," said Joe Iturri, Managing Director at The Saguaro. 'Right now, March is our busiest month. We have rates in the $400 range."

A sure sign of a healthy economy.

The governor's office said the rural counties include the areas outside of Maricopa and Pima County.
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