2023 Means Working Together to Face Economic Challenges
THIS ARTICLE APPEARS IN THE RED ROCK NEWS
January 6, 2023
Although economic forces kept 2022 from being the full recovery year we had hoped for and will remain challenging for the foreseeable future, our beautiful town saw the kind of progress and change that says so much about our passion for our community.
Here at the Chamber, we are open to all perspectives on managing for a sustainable future, as evidenced by our leadership in creating the Sustainable Tourism Plan in 2018-19, which brought many community voices together. It remains the foundation of Sedona’s approach to tourism management.
From our perspective, it’s abundantly clear Sedonans have strong views on traffic management, environmental preservation and anything that affects our quality of life and the pristine beauty of Red Rock Country. We see this passion not only in Sedona’s willingness to volunteer with groups like Keep Sedona Beautiful, Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund, Red Rock OHV Conservation Crew, and Oak Creek Watershed Council but also in expressing their views in public meetings and self-organized coalitions.
Our profound commitment to civic life is inspiring. It naturally produces differences of opinion, but over time, as we work more closely together to achieve the agreed-upon objectives of the Sustainable Tourism Plan, we are finding ways to communicate effectively and compromise. You will find evidence in the steady progress Sedonans are making on STP goals, such as transit, traffic management, educating visitors on sustainable behavior, trail preservation, dark sky compliance, water quality and more. The various community groups that have assumed responsibility for achieving these goals regularly update the Plan’s progress, which we post online at SedonaSustainable.com under Status of the Work.
In 2023, I look forward to more of this concerted effort to balance our economy, environment and resident quality of life with the life-changing experience we offer our visitors. Later this month, the Chamber board and staff will meet with Mayor Scott Jablow, the city council and City Manager Karen Osburn to assess our current tourism management plan and discuss priorities for the coming fiscal year.
As most Sedonans know, our small businesses are the heart and soul of our community, and most rely on tourism. Unfortunately, in recent months, they have been experiencing a significant downturn in business, severe enough to require discussion and possible action by our elected leaders. To support our local economy, one of the pillars of sustainable tourism, we will bring forward common-sense ideas this month to invigorate tourism and assist our small business-owning neighbors. In surveying the national economic environment, we see intense competition among tourism destinations fueled by inflation, fear of a recession and higher airline and gas prices. This rising competition and strong economic headwinds make sustaining our local economy our primary challenge in 2023.
Achieving a sustainable Sedona is a complex task. Tackling quality-of-life issues, for example, can have an economic impact. Environmental management and visitor experience are related. We must prudently consider our actions, be ready to re-balance under quickly changing conditions and most of all, agree that together, our love for Sedona and our desire to preserve her for generations is the key to managing our differences.
Let’s continue to work shoulder-to-shoulder for a better Sedona in 2023 and the future.
–Michelle Conway, President/CEO
Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau