Economic Recovery



September 4, 2020

headerIt’s not too late to try something completely new this Labor Day weekend, especially if you have friends or relatives visiting. Why not volunteer together?

The concept of “voluntourism” is a sustainability tactic: helping visitors get to know us by volunteering during their stay. They grow closer to Sedona and are more likely to respect our quality of life and environment, support our economy, and treasure a unique experience.

The nonprofit Sedona Food Bank is ready to welcome volunteers on Labor Day, Monday, September 7.  Executive Director Cathleen Healy-Baiza’s group provides an essential service and has rigorous anti-COVID-19 procedures in place. Sign up for an hour or for the day by calling 928-204-2808.

Another way your guests can support a deserving nonprofit is to visit the Fine Art Gallery at the Sedona Arts Center to see the display of 2020 Loving Bowls, unique pieces of art made and glazed in various finishes by professional potters. On offer for just $10, and with special Salad Bowls on sale for $50, proceeds  support the Food Bank, Sedona Community Center, Humane Society of Sedona, Verde Valley Sanctuary, and educational programs at the Arts Center. The Fine Art Gallery is open this Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

We also hope you remember to shop local this weekend and every day.  Many of our merchants are struggling with limited operating capacity and/or reduced foot traffic, and your support is crucial in the ongoing fight to survive the pandemic. Please remember to prioritize local businesses.

Of course, visitors and residents alike need to follow safety standards as we get a bit more crowded this weekend. Keep this Sedona | Safe.Clean.Ready checklist handy:

> Wear a protective face covering in public (a Sedona mandate)
> Stay home if you are sick or if have been in contact with a sick person
> Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
> Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
> Maintain a 6 ft distance from others
> Limit contact with others
> Avoid congregation in public areas
> Stay on trails except to let people pass (maintain 6 ft distance)

On a related note, the state of Arizona is taking the first steps in reviving tourism, a $25 billion annual industry. You may soon see Arizona Office of Tourism (AOT) “Rediscover Arizona” ads focusing on staycations, road trips and Arizona’s many outdoor activities while suggesting options for whichever comfort level people have as they consider being away from home overnight.

For more rural areas such as ours, AOT’s message emphasizes responsible visitation. They will share COVID-19 safety protocols and, since many visitors will be looking to enjoy our open spaces, reinforce the rules of using outdoor recreation facilities. They will promote Leave No Trace principles so visitors know their role in protecting our environment, which we whole heartedly support.  As the 12-18-month recovery plans progresses, AOT will work with local guides and outfitters as ambassadors, sharing messages and spotting emerging concerns. This aligns with our Sustainable Tourism Plan, where guides and outfitters play a crucial monitoring and educational role.

The Chamber and the Sedona City Council will meet soon to discuss our own plans to help businesses recover. In June, we jointly agreed to revisit the topic at checkpoints throughout the fiscal year, discussing and agreeing on strategy as the economy and public safety situation evolves.

In the meantime, we continue to promote community safety and strongly encourage Sedonans to shop local. Your local businesses are depending on you!

On behalf of all of us at the Chamber and our more than 950 member partners, we wish you a safe and happy Labor Day weekend.

–Jennifer Wesselhoff, President/CEO