Chamber, Sedona see Balance Ahead after Back-and-forth Year



July 9, 2021

moving-forwardA few years ago, the chamber led the way to Sedona’s award-winning Sustainable Tourism Plan. Hundreds of you participated, committed to balancing the four linked pillars of our wellbeing:

>> A thriving tourism economy
>> Environmental stewardship
>> Outstanding quality of life for our residents
>> Delivering a fantastic visitor experience

But due to circumstances beyond Sedona’s control, the past year has been a cycle of feast or famine.

Pandemic, Travel Rush, Fire and Closures

It began with pandemic-caused, unprecedented business closures. An equally unprecedented influx of visitors followed as COVID abated. But, without tourism outreach messages, many had little knowledge of how to treat Sedona as responsible guests.

Nevertheless, while we felt the pressure on our trails and transportation infrastructure, the economy boomed, and the City set new records for sales and bed tax collections.

Then, the recent fire emergency and sudden forest closure once again seeded doubts about the near future. A record 47.7 million people were on the road this past holiday weekend. With limited to no outdoor recreation opportunities, Sedona was not a top choice for travelers.

Achieving Balance Requires Outreach

Tourism is the lifeblood of our community and vital to a healthy and sustainable region. We must grasp that, like our forests, our tourism ecosystem is a delicate system that we can’t take for granted.

As the Coconino National Forest reopens, we need to set expectations for our visitors. We’ve seen disrespectful or uninformed visitor behavior, and sadly, it is not just a Sedona phenomenon; it is happening around the country, and destinations are taking action. Examples include:

>> Mammoth Lakes, California’s Hug What You Love campaign
>> Are you Colorado-Ready? in the state of Colorado
>> Malama Hawaii campaign in our 50th state

These destinations teach etiquette, no litter, less noise, respect for local culture, and more use of walkable paths and alternative public transit. In the new fiscal year beginning this month, Sedona needs to speak to her visitors with a similarly strong message. Again, the chamber intends to lead the way.

We will also support local infrastructure investment. The infrastructure debate in Washington, focusing on improving roads, bridges, transit and rail, ensuring clean drinking water and providing water storage and security, is directly relevant to Sedona.

As a catalyst, convener and champion for Sedona and the Verde Valley, we work to ensure economic resilience and that visitors are part of the drive to protect our natural resources.

Please Share the Message With Our City Partners

At the City Council meeting Tuesday, July 27, we will stand with our partner, the City of Sedona, to renew our commitment to the Sustainable Tourism Plan for fiscal year 2022. Leading up to that meeting, we hope you reach out to the City Council. Please message our councilors that you support our work on your behalf, and that you want an FY22 plan that furthers a sustainable economy and quality of life for all.

Thank you!

-Candace Carr Strauss,