29 November 2012

Ron Devitt
Doug MacKenzie, director of communications for Visit Phoenix and Michelle Streeter, director of communications for the Mesa Convention & Visitors Bureau
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Doug MacKenzie, director of communications for Visit Phoenix and Michelle Streeter, director of communications for the Mesa Convention & Visitors Bureau

Two Arizona travel promoters braved sub-zero temperatures in Calgary this week to champion the virtues of travel to the Grand Canyon state.

Michelle Streeter, director of communications for the Mesa Convention & Visitors Bureau and Doug MacKenzie, director of communications for Visit Phoenix, spent a few days in Calgary to talk to media outlets about travel to Arizona.

“We in Phoenix love to invite our Northern latitude friends to share in the sunshine we have 320 days a year, especially in the winter and 200 golf courses and 400,000 square feet of spa space,” MacKenzie said. “So what we have in the greater Phoenix area are wonderful resorts, family friendly activities, outdoor adventure and a Sonoran desert that is a wonderful escape from some of the cold weather you folks have in the winter.”

He said some of the amenities that attract travelers from around the globe, include the Phoenix Zoo, the Phoenix Coyotes NH L hockey team, the many spas and Major League Baseball spring training each March.

“It’s a good place to bring the family,” said MacKenzie. “They have games every afternoon at 1 o’clock.  And there’s certainly good golf and good outdoor adventure. We have hot air balloon rides and so many resorts and so many nice pools where you can just bring your family and relax.”

He said from Mexican cuisine to barbeque to a fish and oyster bar, the Phoenix culinary scene is fantastic.

Streeter said that it’s becoming easier all the time for Western Canadians to get down to Arizona.

“The airlines have really ramped up their coverage,” said Streeter “We’ve got West Jet, U.S. Airways and Air Canada flying daily, so there are five non-stop flights daily between Calgary and Phoenix.”

“And in Mesa, we’ve got Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport that is the ho me to Allegiance Airlines and they do a lot of the border cities. So those that are willing to cross the border at Great Falls or over in Bellingham for the B.C. folks, they can hop aboard Allegiance and they offer daily flights as well down to the Arizona markets.”

She said those traveling to Arizona are no longer just Canadian Snowbirds looking to get away from the cold winters.

“It is across the board,” she said. “Phoenix and Mesa are very metropolitan places so they have great urban cores with a lot of vibrant new life in them.

We’re finding all demographics. You have your tried and true winter visitors, and we certainly welcome them with open arms and they certainly keep us buzzing in the winter months, but we also get the weekend warriors – the ones that want to get out on a Thursday and come back on a Sunday. With this non-stop access and two- and- a- half hour flight down to the desert, it’s a grea t way to go sun seeking.”

Streeter, a former Calgarian herself, said, like Phoenix, Mesa also has some great qualities and amenities to offer the northern traveler.

“Not only are we an affordable destination, we always say we have the same sun for less burn,” said Streeter.

She said Mesa is adjacent to the Tonto National Forest (the fifth largest forest in the U.S.), which offers scenic landscapes from cactus-studded desert to pine-forested mountains.

“So the desert adventures that can be had there are just out of this world,” said Streeter. “Everything from your cross adventure like paddle boarding and kayaking to your high adventures like your canyoneering through the upper Salt River Canyon– are all getting wildly popular with visitors.”

MacKenzie said for people looking for indoor pursuits, Arizona features several intriguing museums, theatres and shopping options.

For more information about travel to Arizona go to visitphoenix.com and visitmesa.com

Maralyn D. HillThe Epicurean Explorer

President, International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association

Editor-at-Large, CityRoom

Blogs: Where and What in the World & Success with Writing


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