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Center launches online index to measure travel, tourism


January 06, 2009

Arizona State University's Megapolitan Tourism Research Center has launched the Sun Corridor Tourism Barometer, a new online index to measure the health of the travel and tourism industry.

The barometer will supply decision makers with a monthly scorecard for the businesses, destinations and industries in the state's Sun Corridor that are affected financially by tourist visitation. The seasonally adjusted index, which will be updated each month, is available at http://mtrc.asu.edu/portal/barometer.

It is the first tourism barometer developed for a megapolitan region. A second barometer is being constructed for Northern California in cooperation with San Jose State University. The goal is to construct tourism barometers for each of the 20 megapolitan areas in the U.S. in cooperation with tourism research universities across the country.

"Travel and tourism is fundamental to the integrated economic development process, and measurement tools that capture the monthly trends in this industry will be important for management, policy and public information," says Dr. Tim Tyrrell, director of the Megapolitan Tourism Research Center. "Megapolitan areas include metropolitan areas, smaller cities and rural communities all tied together by the movement of goods, close business linkages, common cultures and physical environments. They are a growing force driving the integration of regional economies into the world economy."

The index serves as a type of scorecard for the entire travel and tourism industry. It does not provide a dollar value of industry output or any individual business sector, but gives an historical account of events, such as the effects of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 on the industry and the time it took to recover. Experts at the center are now watching the index to determine the impacts of recent fuel price increases and growing unemployment on the industry. These had mild effects on the seasonally adjusted index by September 2008.

The index shows two distinct periods of growth -- one from early 1990 to mid-2001 when the index dropped from 116 in August 2001 to a seven-year low of 98.6 in October. Another growth period began in late 2001 and ended in March of 2008 when it reached a record high of 126.1. The index has since declined to 122.2 for September 2008, the most recent data point.

The barometer is designed to specifically represent the Sun Corridor of Arizona: Maricopa, Pinal, Pima, Yavapai, Santa Cruz and Cochise Counties. The Sun Corridor is one of 20 megapolitan regions in the country and includes approximately one-fifth of Arizona's land mass but 80 percent of the population.

The new index is derived from four equally-weighted, seasonally adjusted indicators that capture different aspects of tourism activity: hospitality and leisure industry employment, commercial air carrier landings, national park visitation, and international visitors to the U.S. Together these indicators capture trends in four diverse tourism-related components: jobs, transportation activity, outdoor recreational activity and international visitation.

The Megapolitan Tourism Research Center is devoted to studying the role of tourism in community development in order to strengthen its contribution to viable economic, social and environmental systems, especially in megapolitan regions around the world. The center is part of the School of Community Resources & Development, located in the College of Public Programs at the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus.

For information and to view the barometer, visit: http://mtrc.asu.edu/portal.


SOURCE:

Tim Tyrrell
Professor, School of Community Resources and Development
Director, Megapolitan Tourism Research Center
(602) 496-0156
timt@asu.edu


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