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Sustainable Tourism

Increasingly visitors seek out destinations that offer sustainable options including green hotels, restaurants, and attractions.  The Arizona Office of Tourism has defined sustainable tourism as sustaining the culture, heritage and environment of a region while at the same time promoting economic growth and social wellbeing through tourism. AOT has partnered with National Geographic to highlight statewide destinations and organizations that preserve and celebrate Arizona's unique culture, designated as Arizona Origins locations.

Visitors and residents alike are attracted to Arizona’s wide, open spaces and lush desert scenery.  This influx of activity places an enormous amount of pressure on the state’s infrastructure, so tourism sites are acting now to preserve Arizona for future visitors.  Some of the many efforts taking place across the state include recycling, reducing waste, conserving water and energy, celebrating local cultures, and sourcing local products.

Search for your next Arizona adventure using The Arizona Experience interactive map tool or browse for more options below.

Think Local

A major part of sustainable tourism is “thinking local.”  This can be as simple as visiting a farmer’s market to pick up locally grown snacks for the road.  Local First can connect visitors and residents alike with local businesses.  Thinking locally goes beyond unique museums (like Music Instrument Museum and small cafés (such as Morning Glory at The Farm), and extends to Eco Tourism and VolunTourism, both growing segments of travel that focus on making a difference in the area where you stay.

Sustainable Lodging

Visitors want hotels with green policies and authentic experiences that take them inside the culture of a place.  AOT has partnered with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and the Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association to launch the statewide “Certified Green Lodging” Program.

Some of the criteria to become certified include: creating an environmental task force, providing recycling bins throughout the property, purchasing green certified cleaners, and replacing single use amenities with refillable dispensers.

When looking for an eco-friendly place to stay in Arizona, search for lodging that lists green practices.  This is typically in an “about” section.  Here are a few examples:
Sanctuary on Camelback, Arizona Grand Resort, and Royal Palms Hotel. 

Some cities, such as Tucson and Flagstaff, list local hotels and other places to stay that are in line with sustainable tourism.

For more information on green travel including current research:  Sustainable Tourism Online or GST Council.

Natural Tourism Links

Nature-based tourism focuses on experiences directly related to natural attractions.  Adventure tourism and wildlife tourism are great examples of Natural Tourism in Arizona!  Here are a few more to get you started:  bicycling, gardens and arboretums, hiking and caves, and nature and wildlife events.

Cultural Tourism Links

In addition to nature-based tourism, Arizona is known for its rich history characterized by American Indian and Western culture.   Throughout the state, Arts and Culture are  alive and well, and opportunities to see original, local art abound, especially in cities such as Scottsdale and Sedona, both well known for their art galleries.

The Phoenix Metro area is home to many museums including: Arts and Crafts Events, Music and Theater Events, Exhibitions, and Native Cultures Events.

Public Land

Public land is a major tourism asset in Arizona.  Campgrounds, parks, and monuments, lakes and reservoirs, and other wilderness areas draw visitors from around the world.

With more than 50 state and national parks, Arizona has 11,399 archeological sites in national parks, 44 national historic landmarks, and one national heritage area.  That National Park Service has an interesting (and downloadable!) summary of Arizona by the Numbers.

Arizona Parks and Monuments

Arizona State Parks

Arizona’s West Coast

Grand Canyon

National Park Service – Arizona

U.S. Forest Service – Southwestern Region

For more information, please visit Northern Arizona University’s Benchmark Study.

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