Annual Meeting Offers a Look Ahead from Chamber President/CEO, Experts, Panelists
THIS ARTICLE APPEARS IN THE RED ROCK NEWS
October 21, 2022
Our recent Annual Meeting at the Hilton Sedona Bell Rock blended networking and learning, all of which was exhilarating. 165 Chamber partners and civic leaders attended, as did guests from around the state, including representatives of the Arizona Lodging & Tourism Association [AzLTA]. AzLTA will be back in Sedona for our mixer on Nov. 2, at the Enchantment Resort, updating our members on the latest state and regional tourism trends. Phoenix-based AzLTA is an excellent informational resource and a strong voice for tourism development at the legislature. I am proud to serve on their Board of Directors along with Chamber partners Stan Kantowski and Lonnie Lillie.
Guest speaker Jim Rounds of Rounds Consulting Group in Phoenix made the case that Arizona’s economy is resilient by design and performs better than other states during economic contractions, which many see on the horizon. Rounds calls tourism a “base sector,” meaning money travels to Arizona and gets spent here. He predicts tourism will continue to stabilize the statewide business cycle and called for concerted lobbying of the legislature to increase investment in tourism infrastructure and product development.
Rounds pointed out facts about Sedona that I feel cannot be repeated often enough, and I was glad to reiterate them during my remarks. For example, our more than 10,000 tourism-related jobs are greater than the population of Sedona proper [9,684 in the 2020 census]. In addition, Sedona has no property tax; the only city tax residents pay directly is sales tax [the city bed tax is paid exclusively by visitors, with the rare exception of times you might stay in a local hotel]. The result: Visitor spending generates approximately 77% of city sales and bed tax revenues.
In my comments, I talked about the Chamber’s goals for the year focusing on well-managed tourism, which is so critical to a sustainable Sedona. I went into detail in my column last week, so I will simply list those goals today:
- Encourage positive visitor behavior.
- Lessen density at busy locations.
- Assist in preserving Sedona’s natural resources.
- Ensure future economic health.
- Ease neighborhood burdens and support workforce.
- Deepen engagement with the short-term rental sector.
Regarding short-term rentals [STRs], Mayor Sandy Moriarty pointed out in her remarks that STRs constitute 15% of Sedona’s housing stock, with more than 2,500 available rooms. We look to further partner with the STRs to provide business support and to increase mutual interest in educating their visitors about sustainability in Sedona.
We celebrated our annual award winners. I was delighted to present APS with our Sustainability Award. In addition to their wildlife protection and fire prevention practices, APS has a 2030 target of achieving 65% of generated power from clean energy sources and ending coal-fired generation by 2031, seven years earlier than first projected.
Marty Herman of Exposures International Gallery of Fine Art accepted our Cultural Achievement Award. Named one of America’s “25 Best Galleries,” Exposures’ incredible 20,000 square foot beautifully designed and brilliantly lighted gallery features more than 100 local artists in various media — an international stage for Sedona’s thriving arts scene.
Sedona Recycles is our Customer Service awardee. A key contributor to the Sustainable Tourism Plan, nonprofit Sedona Recycles is an Arizona leader with its progressive recycling policies, public support, and a typical recovery rate of 98%, meaning just 2% of what it receives becomes waste.
Our panel discussion featured three nonprofits and a public agency — the Sedona Public Library, Keep Sedona Beautiful, the Sedona Arts Center and the Yavapai College Economic Development Center — offering their views on Sedona’s future.
I enjoyed hearing their thoughts while sharing our accomplishments, goals and a realistic assessment of what lies ahead. Thanks to all who attended! If you couldn’t make it, check out the presentations online at sedonachamber.com/research.
–Michelle Conway, President/CEO
Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau