The City of Benson’s virtual road-trip video tour of historic Highway 80 earned top honors from the governor’s office for partnering with neighboring cities.

Its the only one weve ever gotten from the state, said Tourism Supervisor Bob Nielson.

In 2018, Nielson saw ADOT putting up a historic Highway 80 sign in Benson. After, seeing the sign go up, he and tourism clerk started brainstorming what they could do to highlight the roadway.

However, the pandemic got in their way.

Four years later, at the end of 2022, the Benson tourism department received two grants from the Visit Arizona initiative to fund their Highway 80 project.

The first phase was creating a map of the route and the different cities along the way. The send phase was a video tour that takes viewers through Cochise County, with stops in: Mescal, Benson, Tombstone, Bisbee and Douglas.

Its just a nice beautiful drive,” said Tourism Clerk Kathy Lara. “Were hoping that people will get in their cars and take a road trip or have a family day out if anything.

Laura and Nielson worked with the other visitor centers along the highway to highlight what each place has to offer.

The partnership is whats good for all of us, is really important to bring tourism back to Cochise County, Lara said.

The collaboration earned the project the Governor’s Tourism Award for best partnership. Nielson said they wanted to feature the other visitor centers in the video because they wanted to provide a familiar face so people feel comfortable asking questions.

We wanted to do something that kind of promoted the visitor center, get people to stop in because you an tailor what people want exactly, the supervisor said.

Since airing the video in March, Lara says they have seen an increase in overnight visitors and she and Nielson have been recognized from the video.

Lara and Nielson agree that receiving the award isn’t going to make them complacent, it’s actually motivating them to think more creatively.

We are still riding on cloud nine,” Lara said. “But it doesnt mean were complacent. We still have big plans for this upcoming winter season with our winter season.