City tax revenues fine since Sept. 11
Even though cities across the nation claim to still be reeling from Sept. 11, 2001, sales tax collection in Williams actually increased in 2002. Sales tax collection from June 2002 showed $2,660,117 compared to a June 2001 sales tax collection of $2,654,900. These figures were taken from a City of Williams sales tax analysis report provided to the News by the Williams-Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce.
“We hold our own. I guess that’s good considering the current climate,” stated Donna Cochran, executive director of the Williams-Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce.
She added that the cities of Prescott and Lake Havasu had a great tourism year.
“I think it’ll (Sept. 11) have more of an impact this year,” Cochran explained.
A downturn in overseas air travel has kept many foreign tourists away, Cochran said.
We’re not seeing our overseas visitors that we used to. The big spenders from Europe are not coming. Our numbers are down for August and July and those are our biggest months,” she said.
Cochran noted that Grand Canyon visitor statistics are down by only three percent.
For Cochran, recent troubles in the stock market are probably more to blame for the decline in domestic tourists.
Cochran stated that City of Williams statistics were predicting a flat economy before Sept. 11, 2001.
“Our employment rate is usually pretty low,” she continued, “We are still hanging on. Water has been our major issue.”
In the meantime, most retailers ask the same questions of Cochran.
“Where are our visitors?” she said. “They are just not showing up. Local retailers are really crying the blues.”
Cochran advised local retailers could be assisted through a shop local campaign.
“We need to take inventory at what’s around Williams,” she said.
Cochran said December would be a big month for Williams when the community hosts the Parade of Lights and Polar Bear Express. Polar Bear Express is a train ride that takes children on a journey to the North Pole (Red Lake area) and includes a visit with Santa Claus.
Cochran is hoping a good winter will boost the skiing industry in our area. She is also seeking ideas from the community to promote the local economy.
“We need to get some ideas from people. We need to start thinking now,” urged Cochran.
Cochran concluded by noting that the community needs to participate in activities that are going on currently while thinking of new ideas for the future.
“Give us some ideas about how we can get people here,” said Cochran. “Focus more on local business and not just out of town.”