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PHOENIX -- The number of Canadian tourists who visit Arizona continues to show tremendous growth.

"Over the past 10 years, we've had over had over 175 percent growth in the number of visitors. We are close to [750,000]," said Mary Rittmann, Director of Trade and Media Relations for the Arizona Office of Tourism. "In the year 2011, which is the latest year we have statistics for, it was over 700,000."

Despite the positive trend, the AOT has hired Toronto-based Connect Worldwide, a representations and marketing firm to help promote the state.

"Canadians are familiar with Arizona, but it's always important to be in front of them," said Rittman. "More and more people have figured just how much Canadians travelers are traveling, so we have a lot more competition in Canada than we used to."

Canadian visitation makes up nearly 15 percent of Arizona's total 4.8 million international visitors. The total direct domestic and international economic impact is $18.3 billion.

"Second only to Mexico, Canada is one of the most important international visitor markets for us to promote Arizona as a travel destination," said Kiva Couchon, Director of Communications for the Arizona Office of Tourism. "International visitors tend to stay longer, which lends to these visitors spending more throughout our state and contributing to Arizona's economy."

Sandra Haros , Reporter

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