Marketing Arizona as a Destination during COVID-19

After months of confinement and fear about the pandemic, the call felt like a blessing. “Would you be able and willing to come to Tucson, Arizona to do photo shoot?” Yes! We charged our camera batteries, cleaned the lenses, checked memory cards, picked up a drone and scheduled our COVID tests. We were packed in about five minutes!

As we were coming from Mexico and the land boarders between Mexico and the US are closed, only allowing essential crossover, we had to make sure there were flights. Unfortunately not all the usual flights were available, especially the convenient Mexico City to Phoenix flight, so we had to look for other options. The best option was a short stop in Guadalajara, on a pretty reasonable fare similar to those pre-COVID.

It was our first trip in months and the first since the pandemic, so we had to be thorough with the health and safety measures every step of the journey. Once the trip was confirmed we reduced any activities that could compromise our health and quarantined for a little over a week. 72 hours before the trip, the four of us took and passed a COVID-19 test. Luckily the good care we took of ourselves by wearing masks and social distancing paid off and we were all negative. Arizona here we come!

I traveled with Enrique Noriega (@enriquenoriega), Ulises Escobar (@ulisesfotografo) and Andrés Lobato (@andreslobatoes). Three incredibly talented Mexican photographers who excel in different fields. Enrique is a great urban and landscape photographer. Ulises is a portrayer and landscapist. Andrés is a renowned photojournalist, with a very sharp and quick eye (not to mention that he is also a very funny guy). Enrique and Andrés have worked with the Arizona Office of Tourism and Visit Tucson on a prior trip held in 2018, but this was Ulises’ first time.

The ultimate goal of the trip was to take photos and create content to market the city of Tucson. We wanted showcase the city’s sanitary measures, and include the ways to deal with the pandemic itself. But also to capture as many Tucsonians in their daily activities, regaining their public spaces, while keeping safe distances, using their face masks and living in the new reality. The response from the people of Tucson was overwhelming. It was clear that they love Tucson and are all ambassadors for their city. Every time we approached to ask for a picture there was a smile, a welcoming message and a contagious sense of pride. When we mentioned the pictures were to promote the city, their reaction was even better. They really made it easy on us.

We were able to visit as much as we could (photography takes time) and there was some sense of discovery in every attraction, activity and place we went. It soon became clear that Tucson and Arizona in general terms are, without a doubt in my mind, the best place to visit in this “new normal” and new world.

The state of Arizona and the city of Tucson have shown that people can come together with a common cause, respecting each other and each other’s space. That landscapes are a definitive trademark in Arizona, and that its sunrises and sunsets are like no other in the world. Its culinary is vast whether you go for a taco (which is NOT the same as we have in Mexico) or for a sophisticated dinner, your options are practically endless. Thanks to the rich blend of cultures in the town, which has boosted a great sense of tolerance, mutual enrichment and synergy, it is only natural to see that people are happy and willing to help their neighbor in these challenging times.

We came to Tucson to capture a series of images from different activities and attractions, and came back with smiles and incredible memories from people who know that the best way to take care of one’s self is by taking care of others, in a permanent loop that binds us all.

Yes, it is safe to travel. Yes, you should travel. Yes, come rediscover Arizona.

See my images @pedro_berruecos.

Contact us if you’d like to plan your own destination marketing trip.

Read another blog post related to COVID-19 international travel.

man with arizona flag face mask