Continue to Work Toward a Balanced, Sustainable Future
THIS ARTICLE APPEARS IN THE RED ROCK NEWS
October 22, 2021
It was wonderful to see many of our friends at the ‘Support Your Local Chamber’ event on Wednesday. Many members brought colleagues to learn more about the chamber as everyone enjoyed delicious appetizers, drinks, music and good company in Steakhouse 89’s one-of-a-kind atmosphere.
The chamber is clearly growing as the united voice of business in greater Sedona; events like this help connect people from around the region and are illustrative of our ‘convener’ role. Not a member consider joining! Learn more at SedonaChamber.com/join-us.
I also presented our FY21 Annual Report in an online presentation Wednesday morning. The report shows the incredible resiliency of Sedona and Verde Valley businesses as our economy set records in recovering from the pandemic. Tourism’s annual economic impact exceeds $1 billion. As our largest industry by far, tourism supports more than 10,000 jobs and generates $240 million in local wages.
If there was any doubt that Sedona’s economic lifeblood is tourism, FY21 and the start of FY22 have put it to rest. Resoundingly. Sedona’s revenues are in record territory, with sales tax revenues up 38% compared to FY20, and bed tax revenues rising an incredible 78%.
These taxes, along with wastewater charges, are the City of Sedona’s three biggest revenue streams. Tourism-based businesses contributed 77% of last year’s sales and bed taxes, and 54% of wastewater charges, a total of $30,162,084 that helps pay for everything from the police to local parks.
Throughout 20-21 we advocated for the power of travel as the state’s number one service export and worked to ensure favorable business policies in the aftermath of COVID-19. We are humbled by the astronomic economic performance locally amidst a devastating global pandemic that resulted in a 41% drop in consumer spending in Arizona in 2020.
The chamber is also a catalyst for regional collaboration to solve the challenges of such unprecedented economic growth. We recently partnered with the City and the Sedona Lodging Council in a public meeting to quantify the short-term rental issue and spell out Sedona’s options. It is clear communities across Arizona must work together to change state law so we can enact reasonable regulations ensuring STRs, particularly the whole-home variety, meet trash, security, parking and other public health and safety standards. That effort will begin in earnest when the legislature convenes in January.
The chamber is taking on the issues around OHV impacts as a founding member of the Sedona Red Rock OHV Conservation Crew (RROCC). The private businesses involved working with Tread Lightly! have pledged 1% of sales to trail enhancement and consumer education. A formal volunteer program formed with the U.S. Forest Service stationed popup booths along Broken Arrow Trail and FR 525 over the busy Indigenous Peoples’ Day weekend to talk with OHV riders about enjoying motorized outdoor recreation while respecting our environment, neighborhoods and quality of life.
We are vocal advocates for the City’s development of a trailhead shuttle system in the coming months and we are busy promoting the expanded Verde Shuttle. Buses now operate 362 days a year, running every 45 minutes on the five busiest days of the week from Cottonwood to Sedona. One-way fare is just $2, and trips within Sedona are only $1. The Shuttle picks up and drops off at the Cottonwood Public Library seven days a week with stops throughout West Sedona, Uptown, Tlaquepaque, Hillside and south to Poco Diablo Resort. If you live in Cottonwood and work in Sedona or the VOC, this could be the perfect solution for you. Learn more at VerdeShuttle.com.
We are continually grateful for the opportunity to serve our business members and the community, and we value the trust placed in us as greater Sedona’s chamber of commerce and official destination management organization. I look forward to championing our causes and engaging more voices as we continue to work toward a balanced, sustainable future.
-Candace Carr Strauss,