Candace – First Comments



January 8, 2021

candace-39-square-crop-web-social-media-sized-1Hello, Sedona! Though my official first day as President/CEO of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau isn’t until February 22, I wanted to reach out, wish you a Happy New Year, and share my excitement about becoming a new member of our community.

Michelle Conway and the entire team have done an incredible job ensuring Sedona remains resilient over the past several months. They are amazing, and I am honored to be working alongside them to serve you.

When I was a young girl and we visited family in Arizona, my father made sure I saw Sedona. I knew immediately Red Rock Country was a truly special place. I fell in love with the spectacular natural beauty, mild weather, brilliant blue skies, and fresh air. Today, her rich cultural history, world-class arts, year-round hiking and biking, fabulous food, first-class accommodations, small town charm and welcoming people are precious gifts we share with people around the world.

Even as a child, I sensed Sedona was a place of renewal and joy. Our thriving wellness industry – ranging from massage and meditation to retreats and life enhancement – is proof of our powerful spiritual allure, a force for goodness and healing more important now than ever.

The challenge we face together is managing our hometown paradise by moving beyond sustainability, showing the world a living, breathing example of a regenerative ecosystem where our visitor economy not only provides a superb quality of life but exemplifies the values we hold true and live every day. The Sedona Sustainable Tourism Plan is a tremendous step forward. It will continue to guide us as we forge a future beyond balance and toward improvements that yield “net positives” for all.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 presently dominates all conversations. Your Chamber is moving in earnest to set and manage expectations so visitors come to Sedona fully prepared to help us slow the spread of the virus. We are communicating COVID-19 vaccination information to our businesses to ensure their employees get their shots in the timely, orderly manner as established by our health officials. Our member partners will continue to follow the stringent safety precautions specific to their type of business as delineated in Arizona Health Department guidelines and our own Sedona|Safe.Clean.Ready program. I’ve already met with our Sedona Tourism Economic Recovery Taskforce and came away impressed by their leadership and guidance as we move toward a post-pandemic future.

Despite COVID-19’s disruption, we can feel positive about our progress on important issues. The completion of 89A in Uptown, the coming Tlaquepaque undercrossing and the scheduled Forest Road connector between Uptown and West Sedona are milestones in our transportation plans. An expanded Verde Lynx public transit and numerous parking projects will ease traffic. The Fly Friendly agreement is a solid accomplishment addressing noise mitigation. The ever-growing number of certified sustainable businesses is a testament to our commitment. I look forward to building on these foundations together.

We can find a COVID-19 silver lining in the increased sensitivity travelers feel for their impact on the destinations they visit. This new awareness is an excellent opportunity to accelerate our Sustainable Tourism Plan goals of educating and enlisting our visitors as partners in stewarding Sedona.  Raising the profile of our Sedona Cares Pledge, a vow to respect our way of life and the environment, is just example. Boosting voluntourism by offering opportunities to join us in roadside cleanups, at the food bank, or pitching in with trail maintenance can also meet their new-found desire for authentic connection and doing good.

Most of all, I look forward to getting to know you, our community partners and residents, listening for ways we can make a positive difference together. Look for updates on my “Walk and Talk” hikes, where you can share favorite trails with me while we talk over what it means to you to be a Sedonan.

I’m deeply inspired by the vision and passion I have encountered from those of you kind enough to reach out to offer your assistance in my transition. Thank you for being so kind and welcoming. I can’t wait to see what we will do together in the months and years to come. See you soon!

   –Candace Carr Strauss