/ Modified dec 13, 2010 3:12 p.m.

Money from Mexico Boosts Tucson Businesses

New study shows shoppers from neighboring Mexican states are vital to our economy

A recent study by the Metropolitan Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau and the University of Arizona indicates that 68 percent of Mexican visitors to Tucson come here to visit the local shopping malls, and their purchases account for five percent of taxable sales in Pima County.

In fact, the Tucson and Park Place malls are reported to be the state's number one and number two destinations for Mexican tourists.

Jim Heilmann, senior general manager for Park Place, says the economic contributions from our southern neighbors can't be underestimated. "It’s very significant," he says. "We love the Mexican national shoppers, and we want to welcome them here.”

But all southern Arizona citizens, not just merchants, benefit from the effects of Mexican consumers, says Felipe Garcia of the Metropolitan Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau. His agency helps retailers become Mexico-ready and has developed strategies to boost the Tucson market and compete with other destinations, like Phoenix and Las Vegas. He says thanks to proactive efforts, controversial Senate Bill 1070 has had limited impact on visitors coming from south of the border.

additional reporting by Tony Paniagua

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