February events offer city big boost


February 8, 2019


half-startI hope you were there to cheer on thousands of visiting and local racers at RunSedona last Saturday. It was exhilarating to see old friends and make new ones at one of Sedona’s most popular traditions.

RunSedona is one of two signature events in February which will bring in approximately $7.2 million to our economy and previewing Sedona’s new sustainable tourism approach. RunSedona alone delivered $3.3 million in new spending – filling hotels, shops, and restaurants. It also drew thousands of ‘high-value’ visitors who have an essential role in our sustainable future.

As health and outdoor fitness enthusiasts, RunSedona visitors are attuned to our wellness lifestyle. Most stay overnight, spending more than day-trip visitors without increasing traffic, and probably have the means to revisit Sedona. They also love getting to know more about the communities they visit. RunSedona, which brings residents and visitors together, perfectly matches what these high-value visitors want to experience.

Another Sedona favorite is on the horizon, packing an even greater economic punch and bringing a different high-value visitor – the Sedona International Film Festival, celebrating its 25th year. The Festival opens February 23rd, uniting residents and visitors in a mission to see as many of the 160 independent films as possible during nine days of screenings.

According to the most recent records, in 2017 the Film Festival gave us a $3.9 million economic shot in the arm. More than 12,000 people attended, and Festival organizers say 45 percent were from Sedona.

Why do we turn out for the Film Festival? People tell me they are proud to host an important cultural event and love seeing excellent independent films while meeting filmmakers, actors, and industry professionals. It’s a Sedona tradition now a quarter-century old, and it could not happen without the high-value visitors who make up 55 percent of Festival attendees.

Inspired by art, Film Festival visitors tend to be receptive to our environmental sensitivities and respectful of local culture. Many stay for multiple days, making a significant economic contribution. Art-centered visitors are likely to enjoy low-impact experiences such as hiking and sightseeing, photography and wellness. Finally, these visitors strengthen Sedona’s creative economy and build buzz about Sedona as a welcoming environment for creative professionals.

These two events inject more than $7 million into Sedona each February while improving our quality of life and cultural horizons. Look no further than the Fisher Theatre itself for evidence. It was built entirely by the Film Festival nonprofit corporation and offers Sedonans year-round cultural events on par with the world’s most celebrated venues.

As sustainability moves forward, we will stay tightly focused on high-value visitors and sustainable events, keeping Sedona the best place to live, work, play and visit.

–Jennifer Wesselhoff, President/CEO