Chamber Meeting Highlights Balance


October 12, 2018


vc2_2018_kelli_klymenkoTwo words defined our Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau Annual Meeting Wednesday at the Hilton Resort at Bell Rock – quality and balance. Balance between visitor attraction and visitor management; balance between growth and preserving our environment; and balance among our four ‘quality’ elements: economic quality, visitor experience quality, environmental quality, and small-town quality of life.

We are striving for balance in marketing this year with a “less is more” approach. Aimed at attracting fewer visitors who stay longer, we believe one person staying three nights is more sustainable than three people staying one night. We plan to target those longer-stay visitors when they are most likely to come, with campaigns in Chicago this winter and Los Angeles in the summer.

We will continuously monitor and adjust our activities to strike the ultimate balance – a ‘sweet spot’ where businesses thrive, visitors are delighted, our environment is preserved, and residents are satisfied our traffic and QOL concerns are abating. It’s a big challenge, and our Sustainable Tourism Plan will help define our strategies when it comes online in the next few months.

All economic signs reinforce a point I made in my presentation Wednesday – tourism is the business of Sedona. Sales tax collections grew 13 percent last year, a $2.1 million jump representing an astonishing $70 million in new economic activity. The retail, restaurant, and amusement sectors all reported double-digit increases, and hotels saw sales increase 26 percent.

Though this is good news, a more diverse economy can help Sedona achieve balance. With our regional partners, we are aligning our workforce with the skills targeted employers say they need, addressing the cost of workforce housing, and working to expand broadband.

Many people don’t realize that the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau are two distinct functions. The Chamber is a robust business support group that added 120 new members last fiscal year and now has more than 850 local partners. The Tourism Bureau is in charge of marketing and managing Sedona’s $600 million tourism industry that supports 10,000 local jobs. One of only 218 Destination Marketing and Management Organizations in the US and one of just five in Arizona, we are quickly emerging as a national leader in responsive, innovative tourism marketing and management.

Our Annual Meeting is always an opportunity to thank the outstanding people making Sedona the best place to live, work, play and visit. This year’s winners are a very deserving, inspiring group!

Volunteers of the Year – Ray and Debbie Schwartz – In addition to their invaluable work with the Chamber, this dynamic duo volunteer for Run Sedona and the Sedona International Film Festival. Ray is a volunteer with the Sedona Police Department. Debbie is active with the Verde Valley Caregivers.

Cultural Achievement Award – James Ratliff of Ratliff Galleries – For more than 30 years, James has been nurturing and showcasing some of our best artists, enhancing our thriving arts community.

Sustainability Award – Darcy Hitchcock of the Sustainability Alliance – We are delighted to make Darcy the inaugural recipient of this new award for her incredible work making Sedona a leader in sustainability and mindfulness.

Customer Service Excellence Award – Oak Creek Small Animal Clinic – We admire Drs. Kinney, Love, Kress and their staff for the professionalism, compassion and loving care they show the animals – and people – who count on their help.

To all who attended, please accept my thanks for your support of the Chamber and your contributions to Sedona. I am looking forward to building on our success and seizing the many opportunities 2019 will bring!

–Jennifer Wesselhoff