COVID-19 pandemic takes huge toll on Flagstaff’s tourism industry

Flagstaff is a city many in the Valley like to escape to for the outdoor experience and cooler temperatures, however, the city has recently seen a decline in tourism due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In January and February, Flagstaff saw a strong number of visitors, however, that number quickly dropped soon after.

This is usually the time of year when someone thinks about packing up the car to head north for a few days to escape the triple-digit heat in Phoenix.

However, being in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, people are thinking twice about a getaway and Flagstaff is feeling the impact.

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“It’s definitely impacted our restaurants, our retail, and our lodging. It’s a difficult situation to balance it all," said Meg Roederer with Discover Flagstaff.

Hotels in the area have seen a nearly 49% decline from 2019, she said.

“No, we have not been through this type of situation before. Flagstaff has experienced other situations, but it usually has been short term," Roederer said.

Because of this, Roederer and her team have pivoted their message to encourage visitors while also emphasizing the health guidelines.

“Utilizing Flagstaff assets to encourage visitation with the best approach with how people should react, like going in and getting a pizza and taking that out and having it over a beautiful overlook," she said.

According to the 2017-2018 Flagstaff Visitor Study, about 70% of tourists come from Maricopa County, specifically the Valley cities. 

"I think if we can encourage our wonderful friends in the south in Phoenix to come up and when they do, they come up and practice health guidelines," Roederer said.

For updates on travel guidelines and fire restrictions in Flagstaff, visit