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That proverbial snowball's chances are looking pretty good to Phoenix area tourism-related businesses these days, thanks to Dave Radcliffe and an aggressive marketing campaign.

Arizona is a haven for winter travelers looking to escape the cold. But with the efforts of Mr. Radcliffe, president-CEO of Phoenix and Valley of the Sun Convention & Visitors Bureau, the state capital has seen big gains in summertime tourists and conventioneers.

The trick to drawing out-of-towners to a place where daytime temperatures routinely top 100 degrees involved, in part, an upbeat attitude about the city.

"We finally stopped apologizing about the heat," says Mr. Radcliffe, 45.

Hotels and resorts started scaling back discount programs. "There were so many discounts in summer and at such deep levels .*.*. it gave people the perception that the value wasn't here," he says.

Most of the bureau's marketing dollars are spent on courting the trade and undertaking consumer efforts. Print ads, generated in-house, currently carry the tagline "America's premier desert city."

In addition, Mr. Radcliffe has made a point of bringing together other state and local tourism authorities, as well as businesses, to "work cooperatively."

That approach is paying off. The area attained its highest occupancy levels ever in 1995, averaging 70% on 35,000-plus rooms.

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