Travel is one of metro Tucson’s top industries.  In 2019 (pre-pandemic), visitors spent $2.6 billion in Pima County, the travel industry employed 25,000 people in our region, and we accommodated nearly 8 million overnight visitors.
 
The COVID-19 pandemic cut visitor spending nearly in half to $1.35 billion in 2020.  While domestic leisure travel has rebounded strongly, corporate and international travel, meetings, and festivals and events, continue to lag. 
 
You will hear from Felipe Garcia, Interim President/CEO about Visit Tucson’s efforts to bring back Tucson travel to pre-pandemic levels, along with his predictions about how long it will take to get there.

J. FELIPE GARCIA – BIOGRAPHY

J. Felipe Garcia has a varied background in tourism, international trade, investments, business transactions and government strategies. Currently, Mr. Garcia serves as the Executive Vice President of Visit Tucson. At Visit Tucson he is responsible for developing and implementing programs to enhance the relationships between Tucson and Mexico. Mr. Garcia also works with the Tucson Film Office to attract film and commercial production to Southern Arizona. In addition to his work at Visit Tucson, Mr. Garcia is board member of several organizations including the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and the Tucson City of Gastronomy. Recently, he was elected to the Executive Committee of the Board of the Delice Network with representatives from Brussels, Barcelona, Lyon, Stavanger and Cape Winelands.

Mr. Garcia was appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to the Arizona District Export Council, an organization of business leaders that provides professional advice to help U.S. companies export.
 
Prior to joining Visit Tucson, Mr. Garcia worked for the Tucson-Mexico Trade Office as an economic development specialist, and for the National Law Center for Inter-American Free Trade, where he was responsible for conducting in-depth analyses of the statutes and legal frameworks of several countries in areas related to customs, investment, trade and product liability, among others. While at the National Law Center he also participated in a project to introduce amendments to the Civil Code of Argentina, while working on issues dealing with liability in Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Uruguay, Costa Rica, and Argentina.
Mr. Garcia has published several articles pertaining to international trade in numerous specialized publications, such as The Exporter Magazine and the InterAmerican Trade Report.  Mr. Garcia has also participated as a speaker in various conferences around the world.
 
Every Thursday, you can see Mr. Garcia on two different Television shows in Mexico, providing insights about the U.S.-Mexico relationship to its viewers.
 
Mr. Garcia holds a law degree from the Monterrey Institute of Technology (ITESM) in Mexico and an L.L.M. in international trade and investment law from the University of Arizona, James Rogers College of Law.
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