Chamber Acts on Managing Sedona’s Tourism Industry
AS SEEN IN THE RED ROCK NEWS
June 15, 2018
I was more excited than usual when I went before the City Council Tuesday evening to report on the activities of our Tourism Bureau. On that day, we began talking about tourism in Sedona in a whole new way. The conversation focused on managing the visitor experience, so we protect our spectacular environment and respect our unique quality of life.
We start with traffic. More visitors mean more traffic. When combined with our limited geographic options and other factors, finding solutions is never easy.
We think the Sedona Chamber & Tourism Bureau can help. Supported by our Board, on Tuesday we respectfully asked Council to forego our scheduled 11 percent increase in the Tourism Bureau budget and asked the them to consider using that $268,900 to help pay for transportation improvements that start later this year. Keeping our marketing at last year’s levels while helping improve our roads can a step we can take immediately to address concerns.
An aside about funding: The Chamber of Commerce is 100 percent funded by our 850 partners. The Tourism Bureau is supported in part by a portion of the City bed tax. Tax revenues are up, so the Bureau’s proportionate share increased by 11 percent.
I also told the Council we will not market Sedona inside Arizona this summer. Most of our warm-weather day trippers come from within the state and almost all drive to get here, contributing to overcrowding.
These adjustments won’t make congestion disappear overnight. But they set the stage for the community’s more considerable challenge: finding the balance that protects our Sedona quality of life and magnificent environment while sustaining our economy, jobs, and families.
We have reached a point where we must actively manage tourism, but it is not a dragon to be slain. Tourism drives our economy, providing jobs for thousands of Sedonans and paying for amenities we all enjoy.
I shared with the Council our work in blazing a community trail towards balance. First, we’ve set a new direction for the Chamber with a revised mission statement: To serve the community by making Sedona the best place to live, work, play and visit.
Next, we are potentially changing the face of Sedona tourism by partnering with the City and ASU to create a Sustainable Tourism Plan, ready this fall. Professionals from the ASU School of Sustainability are studying our tourism patterns and interviewing our businesses, residents, local agencies and non-profits about their concerns. You can expect to see exciting new ideas, such as raising visitor awareness and environmental respect. The Plan will be Sedona’s first big step toward achieving balance: keeping Sedona desirable, beautiful and economically stable.
Next week, I will share more about Tuesday’s meeting and how we can work together toward a unified, self-sustaining, well-balanced model of tourism and stewardship.
–Jennifer Wesselhoff, President/CEO
Listen to what Michelle Conway says about managing tourism: