DMO-accredited chamber is best bet for tourism


February 1, 2019


unique-red-rock-formationThe Sedona City Council reached a consensus during its recent meeting with the Chamber Board of Directors that although competitive bidding for tourism management services may happen in the future, it’s best to continue the Council/Chamber partnership in the coming fiscal year.

This makes sense. Sedona’s first Sustainable Tourism Plan – a model of community collaboration led by the Chamber and supported by the Council – is almost finished. The Plan lays out strategies to balance environmental stewardship, resident quality life, quality of the economy, and a quality visitor experience. It will include tasks for both partners among many other businesses and organizations. Our working relationship with the Council and the entire community are vital to a successful roll-out.

It is also sensible to continue a partnership that benefits taxpayers by thousands of dollars per household per year. Under Chamber management, tourism-generated tax revenues increased to $17 million last fiscal year — 62 percent of the General Fund that pays for basics such as police, streets, and parks. If taxes paid by tourists were spread equally among Sedona’s roughly 5,125 households, the bill would come to $3,297 per family.

A Chamber/Council tourism partnership is also practical. The Chamber is part of the fabric of our community. Our more than 850 members represent thousands of full-time residents — running businesses (many tied to tourism), raising families, and supporting our civic events. Our connections to Sedona position us perfectly to listen and respond to ideas and concerns about tourism management – demonstrated by our whole-community approach to crafting the Sustainable Tourism Plan. Visit for more Plan details.

In Arizona and around the country, accredited Destination Marketing Organizations, called DMOs, manage regional tourism. In many smaller communities such as Aspen CO, Park City UT, and Wickenburg AZ, the local Chamber of Commerce is a DMO. That’s the case in Sedona. The Chamber is a fully-accredited DMO, the only one in Northern Arizona and one of only five in the state.

Wisely, state law authorizes cities to make tourism-management agreements with nonprofits who, unlike marketing firms or ad agencies, focus on community service rather than a fat bottom line. The Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau has been a civic-minded nonprofit 501 (c) 6 for more than 65 years.

We deliver the full range of tourism marketing services for Sedona: advertising, marketing, public relations, website design and maintenance, travel industry sales, group sales, co-op advertising, product development, visitor services, and long-range strategic planning. We also provide a wide variety of visitor management strategies including dispersion, more parking, assistance with SIM projects and public transportation, sustainability initiatives, event support, and much more. It is difficult for an outside company to profitably provide these required services – and match the Chamber’s DMO accreditation, nonprofit status, and community relationships.

At this critical time in the evolution of our biggest industry and economic future, we are grateful for an excellent Chamber and Council relationship that benefits all Sedonans, and we’re excited to be working closely with our elected leaders in the years ahead.

–Jennifer Wesselhoff, President/CEO