Ariz. Welcomes More Snowbirds in '14
The chill of a 40-degree morning did not deter friends Sherry Bryant and Mary Vanderkooy from putting on their swimsuits and jumping into the outdoor jacuzzi at Sunflower RV Resort in Surprise, Ariz., this week, the Arizona Republic reported.
Bryant and Vanderkooy, both from Colorado, joined thousands of seasonal visitors who came to the West Valley last fall.
Although snowbirds have become increasingly difficult to count, this year appears to be the strongest for winter visitors since the Great Recession ended. Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to stay in metro Phoenix this winter for up to six months, including a rising number of Canadians.
Snowbirds are vital to the West Valley economy, said Lorraine Pino, director of the Glendale Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Sunflower has more than 1,100 RVs and manufactured homes.
Snowbirds make up nearly 90 percent of the trade for Cal-Am Properties Inc., a California-based company that owns 11 RV parks in Arizona, including Surprise’s Sunflower.
The winter migration is critical, said Marc Franklin, chief operating officer of Cal-Am.
“It’s a huge impact,” said Steve Chucri, a Maricopa County supervisor and president and CEO of the Arizona Restaurant Association. “This is a unique grouping of individuals known for dining out. They have the resources and time to dine out.”
In 2013, the revenue taken in by Arizona restaurants grew by about $500,000 over 2012, for a total of $10.6 billion, Chucri said.
“If you took the snowbird population out of those numbers, you would probably see about 20 percent less,” he said.
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