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Maricopa County Leaders Want To Make It Easier For Mexican Tourists To Visit Arizona

Government leaders from across Arizona met with officials from Mexico’s foreign relations ministry on Thursday, taking pictures together and highlighting efforts to improve economic and political relationships between the two countries.

The group, which included officials from Maricopa and Pinal counties as well as Flagstaff, visited the foreign relations ministry for about an hour. Nathan Pryor, policy director for the Maricopa Association of Governments, said many government leaders in the state would like to make it easier for Mexican tourists with expedited travel cards to visit all corners of the state.

A study from the University of Arizona concluded those visitors would have a positive economic impact of $180 million during the first year of such a plan, Pryor said. Mexican tourists skiing in northern Arizona or hiking the Grand Canyon would be beneficial for the state, he added.

"These are people who have been vetted, part of the growing middle class of Mexico, low risk of overstay. But currently they can only get as far north as Tucson," Pryor said. “This would be a win-win for both sides.

Expanding the expedited travel plan would require congressional approval.

Jorge Valencia was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2016 to 2019.