Annual Festivals Boost Economy


March 1, 2019


biking-headerThe annual Sedona Mountain Bike Festival (MTB) kicks off today and lasts through Sunday as avid groups of mountain bikers enjoy our Red Rock trails. You’ll find them enjoying exhibits, the beer garden, and stage performances at Posse Grounds Park. The chill yet adventurous vibe they bring to town makes this a one-of-a-kind event.

Festival organizers are taking action to respect Sedona’s environment and give back to the community. Their website reminds riders to share the USFS trails with other users, stating, “Our goal is to celebrate appropriately: respect the resource, respect other trail users and generally leave a great impression of the mountain bike community, which means NOT leaving our physical impression.”

MTB bikers from Over the Edge are also determined to thank Sedona, and you can help. The Can’d Aid Foundation – which donates bikes to youth around the country – is hosting a community bike build at Posse Grounds Park from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. The assembled bikes will be (shhh! It’s a surprise!) donated to the entire first-grade class at West Sedona Elementary on Monday, with world-class free rider Jeff Lenosky on hand to talk about safe biking for good health and adventure.

I think the festival offers a preview of how sustainably-managed tourism will attract environmentally-sensitive visitors who leave Sedona just a little bit better than they found it. Sedona appreciates the spirit of the mountain bike community. I hope you get the chance to enjoy their company and give them a warm welcome, while giving them space to bike along the roadways!

As always, the first responders at Sedona Fire are ready to assist at this weekend’s festival. Recently, a District-commissioned study showed tourism and events like the MTB generate most of the District’s tax funding, saving Sedonans a lot of cash. Research by the Rounds Group of Tempe also found that while the tourism industry provides 54 percent of the SFD’s total tax funding, non-residents consume only 25 percent of SFD services. That ‘extra’ money helps the Sedona Fire District provide the staffing, training, and equipment they need to provide lifesaving services to all Sedonans every day. The SFD study can be found on under ‘reports and research’.

The study also found that without tourism, residential and commercial property values would fall by as much as 50 percent, requiring a much higher county property tax rate to maintain SFD services. But with a robust tourism economy in place, SFD residents enjoy higher-quality services at a lower cost, paying 25 percent less in fire district property taxes than residents of neighboring districts, according to the study.

Further, the report states that without tourism-industry tax support, “providers would be under considerable strain to provide even the most basic services.” SFD would experience a severe funding shortfall, the report concludes, requiring residents “to fund the financial shortfall by way of increased taxes.”

As the community moves toward sustainable tourism management, let’s remember part of the intricate balance we seek includes keeping our first responders well-funded while keeping tax rates low.

–Jennifer Wesselhoff, President/CEO