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Arizona Edition: COVID-19's Impact on Yuma's Winter Visitor Population

Brandon Mejia


Each year tens of thousands of winter visitors escape the cold and head to Yuma whether it's by RV, hotel, or residency the impact of visitors is noticed throughout the city's economy. 

In 2019, Yuma exceeded all the benchmarks when it came to hotel occupancy, average daily rate, and revenue. Since the start of the pandemic in March, it has been heartbreaking according to Linda Morgan, Executive Director of Visit Yuma. 

"This year is definitely going to be different for several different reasons," Morgan said.

A 2017-2018 study by Arizona State University estimated that visitors that stayed at least 30 days generated a local economic impact of over $450 million. 


According to Linda Morgan, Winter visitors contribute a lot to Yuma-area RV parks and hotels. 

A lot of the visitors come from north of the border in Canada. Visit Yuma estimates that Canadians make up 30-35 percent of Yuma's Winter visitors. Supplemental health insurance was recently provided for Canadian's worried about catching the virus in the United States. However, border restrictions still limit their travel. 

"Borders are still closed for non-essential travel and when that order expired recently it was extended another 30 days," Morgan explained on Arizona Edition. 

If the borders don't open and they are traveling by RV the chances of them coming later are very slim because of hazardous weather conditions along the way, she explained. 

If there is good news in the realm of it all its RV sales. "People instead of taking big vacations where they might fly and go on a cruise, they are buying RV's. So, we are going to see these Canadian visitors backfilled with domestic travel," Morgan said. 


In this episode of Arizona Edition, KAWC's Lou Gum discusses what the winter visitor outcome for Yuma may look like in this new normal and its impact on the local economy.

Lou grew up in Tucson and has a long family history in the state of Arizona. He began his public radio career in 1988 at KNAU in Flagstaff as a classical music DJ and has been hooked on public radio since, transitioning to news after trying his hand at several other careers in publishing and commercial broadcasting. Lou has a degree in American Studies from Arizona State University and was KAWC's Morning Edition host for two and half years before becoming News and Operations Director.
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