YUMA, Ariz. - Winter visitors have now come to play a big role in Yuma during parts of the year.
This group of people have helped Yuma grow financially as well as a community.
In order to determine where these visitors are most beneficial, Visit Yuma, as well as Arizona State University, have created a study.
However, according to Linda Morgan, executive director of Visit Yuma, these studies are costly.
“To really get some scientific data that we can rely on, it’s expensive and it's not something we can afford to do on a yearly basis,” Morgan said.
The Arizona Office of Tourism offers partial funding for these visitor studies which can be used to improve marketing intelligence.
“This past year, we did partner with Yuma County, the Arizona Office of Tourism who have a survey done by Arizona State University and study specifically the winter visitors in that population,” Morgan said.
A “visitor” is defined by the Arizona Office of Tourism (AOT) as someone who has travelled more than 50 miles to a community.
A winter visitor is defined as someone who stays in Yuma for 30 nights or longer.
“We know that they really do bring a lot to the economy some of the restaurants, hotels and retail opportunities, we have because of our winter visitors,” Morgan said.
A set of four studies have been conducted over the past six months, intercepting winter visitors at the Visit Yuma Information Center, events, and RV parks.
“If we get data every year or every five years, we can start to look at trends and things that are going on within that population of travellers,” Morgan said.
There are several results that have been released in a similar study done previously by Arizona State University.
In total, 349 surveys were completed with 82% visiting Yuma in the winter of 2017-2018 for 30 nights or longer.
On average, winter visitors (30+ nights) stayed 138 nights, most commonly arriving in October and departing April.
The primary place of residence is in Washington (30%).
“If we see that we have a certain number of people coming from a certain area, we have a lot of visitors from Canada, we can do a better job of reaching them,” Morgan said.
In addition to those who owned properties, 15,486 leased lots in 44 RV parks.
Similar to Yuma tourist studies, visitors were also intercepted at the Visitor Information Center and three other community events.
Visit Yuma estimates the Medjool Date festival, Lettuce festival, and Midnight at the Oasis attract 5,500, 4,000 and 40,000 attendees.
Of those studied, those who own a home or mobile home said they are less likely to attend events.
During December through May 2017-2018, Visit Yuma staff estimate 39,000 customers passed through their doors.
Winter visitors have also helped the community come together through volunteering their time for several organizations around Yuma.
"We just know that they help the economy, a lot of volunteerism hours come from our winter visitors so we appreciate them and we hope to do a better job serving them,” Morgan said.
The results of these four studies are set to be given in February at the County Supervisors meeting on October 20th at 9 A.M.
“This community is so collaborative, all of our organizations work together for the betterment of Yuma and you don’t find that every place that you go,” Morgan said.