Thursday, March 5, 2009

Weaker dollar a strong boost for Arizona tourism

Arizona Republic, The (Phoenix, AZ) - Friday, April 11, 2008
Author: RICHARD KELLEHER , The Republic

The college professor responsible for me taking my first journalism course, the late Jim Crow, said a good journalist would steal ideas from other journalists.

Toward the end of March, an enterprising television reporter went to the Grand Canyon to cover all the Europeans viewing the state's most visited tourist site.

His point was that the U.S. dollar at that time was worth roughly half a euro. Wish I could remember which station he was on, but I am a channel flipper. If truth were known, he probably practiced what Crow preached and stole his story idea from someone else. If not, I will practice Crow's theorem.

The reporter was pointing out that the devaluation of the U.S. dollar is not necessarily a bad thing, and it isn't. It makes the U.S. a vacation bargain.

It also means anything manufactured or grown in the U.S., such as corn or beef, is cheap in Europe. Other countries are now importing like we were 15 years ago.

Unfortunately for us, many things like computers and cars are manufactured in China or Korea, meaning as the dollar loses value overseas, everything we purchase, including petroleum, costs us more.

In the mid-1980s, a wise man pointed out that even then the only thing the U.S. could offer the world was knowledge.

The media focus on the price of gas, scaring business owners into laying off employees.

The flip side is that the U.S. has some of the most brilliant minds in the world in the area of architecture, graphic design, computer programming and even mall development.

Donald Trump is taking advantage of this by building throughout the world.

Local author Robert Kiyosaki in his book Rich Dad Prophecy said smart investors will prosper while others only see catastrophe. Trump is a perfect example.

Dan Harkins could be expanding his entertainment expertise throughout Europe at what appears a bargain price to Europeans while he still makes a healthy profit.

The point is, someone needs to stand up to the floodtide of bad economic news and say: "Quit your panic. This is not a movie theater on fire."

Recently, I gave a presentation to a civic group about how good our state's economy is.

When you look at the tourism dollars flowing into Arizona, we're in the best shape the state has been in for more than 100 years.

This state built its economy on tourism. Since the '50s and '60s, when our major marketing tool was Arizona Highways, we've focused on tourism. We have lots of activities like spring training to draw tourists -- even to the Grand Canyon. We're one of the top cities nationally in golf courses per capita.

The civic group I presented to was meeting at a restaurant on a Monday night, and the restaurant was so full it was turning people away.

Monday night is the worst night of the week for restaurants, yet this springtime, tourists packed them.

My only question is: Will restaurants accept euros? They should!