Chamber attempts to tackle traffic dilemma
AS SEEN IN THE RED ROCK NEWS
June 22, 2018
Sedona appears to be enthusiastic about recently-proposed new ideas for managing tourism, and that’s a win for all of us concerned about traffic, environmental preservation, the future of our economy and the Sedona quality of life.
Since presenting the Tourism Bureau budget to the City Council June 12, I have heard from many who support our plans to step back from aggressive marketing for now. They agree with our drive to find sustainable tourism strategies that work for Sedona, and are delighted we are reinvesting 23 percent of the tourism budget into visitor-related Sedona infrastructure.
Many are surprised to learn that the Chamber of Commerce is supported entirely by our 858 member partners and receives no public money. Our Tourism Bureau is funded through a portion of the City’s bed tax.
Others told me they loved hearing about Sedona Trail Keepers, a Chamber reinvestment program that helps preserve our local trails. Since 2016, Chamber partners have donated $100,000 to the National Forest Service through Trail Keepers, all for local trail maintenance and preservation. It’s so popular (Chamber members and families love our trails, too!) we are expanding the program, with a goal of donating $310,000 for preservation by 2021.
I also told Council about “Sedona Secret 7,” a popular visitor management tool. “Secret 7” diverts foot traffic to lesser-used trails and educates visitors about the beauty and fragility of Sedona.
Walksedona.com is a way we encourage visitors to get out of their cars and explore. By providing distance and route information directly to their GPS-enabled phones, walksedona.com gives people the confidence to walk the town, easing traffic and offering them a chance to get to know Sedona a little better.
You may have already heard that we asked Council to forego the Tourism Bureau’s proposed budget increase and use that $268,900 to help pay for traffic improvements. We are also taking first steps towards traffic alleviation by not marketing Sedona inside Arizona this summer.
Longer term, the Council and the Chamber are partnering with ASU to produce a Sustainable Tourism Plan. The Plan will help preserve our quality of life with strategies that, among other things, carefully manage the visitor experience and identify realistic alternatives to the personal-vehicle model of touring Sedona. It’s due this fall, and I can’t wait.
Naturally, managing tourism in Sedona will always mean keeping our economy healthy and local businesses strong. Opposing tourism or calling for an end to an industry that generates thousands of Sedona jobs is counterproductive.
The Sedona Chamber & Tourism Bureau can’t do it alone, but our members believe innovation, plus ongoing collaboration with our elected leaders, can lead to community consensus on how to manage our most important industry for the benefit of all.
Our new Mission Statement requires us to “serve the community by making Sedona the best place to live, work, play and visit.” Balancing sustainable tourism with a healthy business climate is at the foundation of that mission. It’s a task that will engage all of Sedona, and the Chamber is excited to be helping lead the conversation.
You can contact me with your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 928.204.1123.
-Jennifer Wesselhoff, President/CEO
Listen to what Kegn Moorcroft says about managing tourism: