Business Week reports that America’s largest Indian reservation has seen an increase in spending by visitors to the tune of a nearly 33% jump in the past few years. The study, done by a Northern Arizona University research center for the Nation, reported that approximately 600,000 visitors spent nearly $113 million on the reservation in 2011. This is a 32% increase in tourism spending since 2002. Navajo Nation officials believe that this reflects positive word of mouth from tourists who have visited the vast, 27,000 square miles of the Nation’s beautiful reservation.
Bordering the Grand Canyon as well as the sandstone cliffs and red desert of Monument Valley, Navajo Nation is uniquely situated in one of the country’s most jaw-dropping landscapes. The Nation surrounds the crucially important archaeological sites at Chaco Canyon in northwest New Mexico, as well as being home to Canyon de Chelly, a site with artifacts and cliff dwellings that date back to the 4th century.
Albert Damon, who heads the Nation’s economic development division, said in a statement that the word of mouth was being generated by families and friends of the Nation who are helping promoting their reservation as a tourist destination.
“No amount of money can equate to positive word-of-mouth advertising,” he said.
An interesting facet of the study was the fact that the number of U.S. visitors to the reservation has actually declined since 2002, but international travelers have more than made up for the loss in revenue, with German and French tourists specifically helping to increase international tourists by more than 11%.
The study also found that Navajo Nation wasn’t just becoming a stop on a longer trip but rather the primary destination for many travelers. Last year, tourists were spending the majority of their money on lodging, transportation, arts and crafts, meals and groceries.
This uptick is a major boon for the Navajo Nation, which says that nearly 1,800 full-time jobs on the reservation are directly involved in the tourism industry. As Indian Country Today Media Network recently reported, the Navajo Nation is also planning on developing the East Rim of the Grand Canyon for tourism purposes.