Invite Sonoran Visitors to Shop Locally Already!

December 15, 2013 |

Right now, my huge, extended family in Sonoroa, Mexico is gearing up to do some Christmas shopping in Tucson. Soon they will be hitting our shopping malls and buying a bunch of stuff.

And soon you will join them, driving your car in those full lots as you notice all those Sonoran license plates and – because I know you are smart and you get it – you will smile knowing that these Mexican tourists are pumping millions into our local economy.

Some local tourism leaders, however, think that my relatives are obsessed with chains. They think the only way to keep my cousins coming back to Tucson is by emphasizing corporate shops. These tourism experts use social media to showcase Golden Corral, Best Buy, Starbucks, etc.

Why? Well, they say that is just how Sonoran visitors are and it’s the only way to get them here to shop.


When is the last time the Italians said you would not visit Rome if they did not first entice you with a visit to their Olive Garden? When is the last time you saw Mexico City tourism experts promote Taco Bell as a great place to get a bite to eat while visiting their great city?

News flash: Mexicans attend colleges and read books. They have things called museums. And, in big cities like Hermosillo, local business owners understand how sales taxes work and how that revenue stream helps their local economies.

Maybe a better approach would be to entice Sonoran visitors to shop locally owned businesses because, by doing so, more of their money stays here in Tucson to support the schools, roads and public safety that many of their Tucson relatives depend on. Do our tourism experts truly believe that Mexican visitors can’t understand that?

Besides, our local shops rock! Sonoran visitors would love The Sunshine Mile, 4th Avenue, Campbell Avenue or the Furniture District if they were simply informed of their existence. Sonoran visitors are no different than tourists from all over the world that crave authenticity when they travel.

What’s our problem, anyway? Let’s put away the tupperware and break out with the good stuff already!

Miguel Ortega is an independent business development consultant. His radio program, “Locally Owned with Miguel Ortega”, airs on KVOI 1030AM every Saturday at 11 a.m. You can also listen to his radio columns on KXCI 91.3FM and follow his blog at

Category: Arts, Business, Community, DOWNTOWN / UNIVERSITY / 4TH AVE, Living