Tourism & Mexican Spending

Tourism is the third biggest industry in Yuma County.  According to documents obtained by the Yuma Visitor's Bureau, 2014 saw $664.7 million in Direct Travel Spending.  That income created 5,920 jobs, generated $15.6 million in earnings and $46.2 million in additional taxes.  

Yuma has plenty to offer travelers and tourists alike.  But there is no doubt that Yuma's winters are some of the best in the country and draw the majority of visitors between November and Aril every year.  


Winter visitors enjoy the Yuma climate and all that it offers

The weather begins to cool in November, but northern license plates from places such as Montana, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, and even Canada often begin appearing as early as October.  So many winter visitors appear in Yuma County that the population of the City of Yuma doubles!  It's clear that Yuma's winter visitors prefer shoveling sunshine instead of snow! 

Just how many winter visitors come tends to be an elusive number.  At the peak of our winter visitor season, February, it is estimated we have about 80,000 visitors.  February is the peak of the season as many places on the continent are experiencing some of their coldest temperatures. But no matter the numbers, they have a huge impact on the area.  Consider that the City of Yuma's year-round population is about 94,000.  Adding another 80,000 is a big seasonal influx of people to the community.  

During the winter of 2012-2013, the Yuma Sun took a survey and our winter visitors indicated that 63.8 percent live in the Foothills community, on the east side of Yuma.  Then, 32.8 percent live in the City of Yuma.  The rest live in smaller communities of Wellton, Tacna, Quartzsite, and Winterhaven. 

Winter visitors that come for a short time stay in hotels.  Many camp on public lands surrounded by friends they’ve known for years.  Others rent a lot and live out of their fifth-wheel or motorhome for about 5 months.  Many of these visitors come to love Yuma as much as the locals and end up buying homes and property in Yuma County to lay down permanent roots. 

In the same survey, winter visitors indicated that 39.2 percent of them stay about five months, 32.7 percent have been coming for 1-5 years and 33.8 percent have been coming for 6-10 years.  At the same time, 4.5 percent had come to Yuma for the first time. 

Many are clear on their motives to come to Yuma: to escape the cold weather back home, to enjoy the warm sunshine and friendly people, because it's easy to get around and there's "lots to do." 

Winter visitors enjoy the Yuma climate and all that it offers

Retired military personnel enjoy the fact that Yuma is a military town.  During the winter months, it is common to see visitors lining the roads to watch aircraft from YPG or MCAS Yuma fly and to “hear the sounds of freedom.”  Retired farmers come to enjoy the diversity of winter crops grown here, and take full advantage of the Ag Tours offered by Visit Yuma. Others come because they have friends or family here, or just for a short visit…but they end up returning.

Today's winter visitors are not quite the same breed as they were 25 years ago.  Our nation’s youngest retirees come to Yuma and are highly active!  They hit the casinos, browse the swap meets, attend arts and crafts shows, patron local events and fill seats at concerts. They enjoy hiking in the desert, playing golf and fishing. They visit Mexico for medical and dental treatment and stay to linger over lunch and margaritas. 

Many of our winter visitors love the area so much that they give back to our community. They volunteer at Yuma Regional Medical Center, help fill food boxes at Yuma Community Food Bank, serve meals at Crossroads Mission, volunteer at local churches and lend a hand to the Salvation Army's annual Christmas drive. 

With all the various backgrounds and life experiences they bring, our winter visitors are indeed an exciting addition to the community.


Mexican visitors spend an estimated $2.2 billion on food, clothing, entertainment, and other activities in Yuma County each year, according to a speaker at an economic forum in 2012. That represents more than 6 percent of all taxable sales.  That spending directly supports more than 2,000 local jobs.

"They're huge day trippers," Linda Morgan, executive director of Yuma Visitors Bureau, said of Yuma's visitors from Mexico. They come over to see family, eat in restaurants and shop.

Walmart is an especially popular destination, with about 25 percent of Mexican visitors making a stop there, according to a University of Arizona study in 2007-08.

During the winter produce season, thousands of people cross the border every day to work in Yuma's fields. Many come back to spend their paychecks here.

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