Visit Mesa Becomes First-Ever Autism-Certified Destination Marketing Organization

Visit Mesa is the country’s first-ever destination marketing organization designated as a “Certified Autism Center” by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES). This new distinction is a result of the organization’s staff and governing board of directors completing more than 100 hours of specialized training to help families and individuals with special needs prepare for their perfect vacation and enjoy the varied travel offerings that can be had in the East Valley city. “Visit Mesa is thrilled to be a national leader in the visitor industry and invest in training to better serve individuals with autism,” said Marc Garcia, president & CEO of Visit Mesa. The recognition enables Visit Mesa to tap into a market with 32 million annual travelers. More than $262 billion is spent on autism-related services in the U.S. each year. Autism affects a significant number of people as ASD is at a 600 percent increase, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Now that Visit Mesa has become the first-ever destination marketing organization designated as a “Certified Autism Center,” on April 16, it raised the bar even higher by requesting partner businesses in Mesa’s hospitality community follow their lead to undergo autism training. Guest-facing staff at Mesa businesses are actively being approached and will complete autism sensitivity and awareness training within the next six months. Visit Mesa partner businesses that have expressed interest early on or are currently enrolled in the certification process include several Mesa hotels, museums and the many family attractions that serve ASD visitors. Businesses will conduct training through IBCCES which includes training and knowledge assessment of common behaviors and sensory considerations associated with ASD. Following Visit Mesa’s lead, the Mesa Chamber of Commerce’s entire staff and board has also completed the IBCCES training. Mesa Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities Department is in the process of training approximately 500 employees and was one of the first organizations to commit to the training. When complete, Mesa Parks will represent one of the largest investors into the program. 

Participating businesses will be included in a variety of planned Visit Mesa destination marketing opportunities such as:

  • National awareness campaign featuring new advertising themes promoting ASD travel
  • Dedicated online presence on, a free online resource for parents
  • Autism-Certified travel-planning portal on the new website
  • Featured location on the geo-caching app featuring Mesa and promoted to ASD travel community