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Sabino Canyon

the region. More than 300 species of live animals and 1,400 species of plants indigenous to the Sonoran Desert are exhibited in naturalistic habitats. Golf is an excellent way to enjoy the

Desert. Tucson’s newest golf course, Sewailo Golf Club opened in December at Casino Del Sol Resort, an enterprise of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe. Sewailo, meaning “flower world” in the Pascua Yaqui language, was designed by Notah Begay III, a Native American PGA Tour player and Golf Channel commentator. More than 30,000 Sonoran Desert flowers, cacti and other native plants have been incorporated into the landscaping. Te 200-acre golf course measures 7,400 yards from the championship tees and features five different tee boxes at each hole. Rolling fairways and greens complement nearly 14 acres of lakes, streams and water features. Enjoy the views at Sabino Canyon

Shopping and dining options abound

in Tucson. La Encantada is an upscale outdoor specialty shopping center that celebrates the splendor of old-world Spanish traditions alongside modern sophistication. It features plazas, fine dining, and the trendiest national and local retailers. Dine at a Tucson Originals restaurant,

Mariachi Band

Recreation Area, a true desert oasis. Te narrated ground-tram ride lasts 45-minutes and travels through some of the most camera-worthy scenery in the Tucson area.

an organization of many of Tucson’s best independent fine dining, casual, and neighborhood restaurants preserving Tucson’s culinary sense of place by encouraging the support of local establishments. Enjoy dinner and try your luck at one of Tucson’s casinos, Desert Diamond Casino or Casino del Sol. Or enjoy dinner at one of Tucson’s many award-winning Mexican restaurants like El Charro or Café Poca Cosa. Plan your next meeting or event in the Sunniest City in the Sonoran Desert.

Arizona Meetings & Events: Why should a group/

organization plan an event in Tucson? Brent DeRaad: Many associations and companies

As President & Chief

Executive Officer of the Metropolitan Tucson Convention & Visitors Bureau, now known as

Visit Tucson, Brent DeRaad and his 35-member Visit Tucson staff are charged

with marketing, promoting and selling metro Tucson as a leisure and meetings

destination. Here, DeRaad tell us why Tucson is a great place to hold meetings and events.

Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase

are looking to get their delegates or employees away from their daily realities and into places where they can rejuvenate. Arizona’s Sonoran Desert is the perfect place to escape to for meeting attendees. Hiking, cycling, horseback riding and leisurely walks in the picturesque desert with more than 300 days of sunny weather per year awaits. Southern Arizona offers great getaways for individuals and groups including Tombstone, Bisbee, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, and countless other locations. AZME: Don’t miss attractions or events in Tucson? BD: Tucson has world-class attractions: Old Tucson,

Pima Air & Space Museum, Tohono Chul Park and more. Tucson has funky, quirky events and locales that have delighted locals and visitors for years. The All Souls

Procession is at the top of my list, along with the Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase, Tucson Festival of Books, the El Tour de Tucson cycling event and more. Our long-awaited streetcar is nearly finished. It will transport thousands of people daily from the University of Arizona campus into various parts of downtown and back. Downtown Tucson is in complete transformation right now with restaurants, bars, retail, apartments and condos under construction. Within the next 5-10 years, downtown Tucson, including 4th Avenue, may be the most hip, trendy spot in Arizona. AZME: What’s your take on the industry in regards to the future of meetings in Tucson? BD: We are excited to finally see the meetings industry begin to improve in Arizona.

Many hotels and resorts throughout metro Phoenix and Tucson depend heavily on meetings to generate room nights, food-and-beverage spending and conference services. We were one of the last states to feel the recession because there was a strong pipeline of meetings already booked. However, it has taken a long time for that pipeline to begin to refill. We’re slowly seeing more meetings being booked, additional delegates and a gradual increase in spending per delegate. We are still a long way from peak meetings activity in 2007, but we are moving in a positive direction.

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