Focused on Destination Stewardship



August 27, 2021

Beautiful Sunset Scenery of Sedona, ArizonaThe calm before the storm. That is how I view the past few weeks. We have seen a more seasonal “normal” for visitation with hotel occupancy hovering between 50% to 65%. However, Labor Day weekend is coming, usually signaling the beginning of a busy fall season.

It’s no surprise the tourism concerns with which we grapple are also front-burner issues at destinations across the country. From mountain resorts to seaside retreats, residents face record numbers of visitors, heavily used trails, stressed ecosystems, snarled traffic, and an uptick in trash and bad behavior.

Consequently, Sedona’s heightened focus on sustainable destination management is getting noticed. That’s why I was invited to participate in the 2021 Educational Seminar for Tourism Organizations, or ESTO, in Los Angeles recently. ESTO is produced by the US Travel Association, where I serve on the Board of Directors. It is the premier annual forum for destination managers to trade ideas, share what’s working and debate the issues.

I appeared on a panel focused destination stewardship, a critical part of Sedona’s cultural and environmental future.  A representative of the Sitka Tribe in Alaska spoke movingly about being respectful of the land and indigenous culture, and a New Orleans panelists told of preserving the city’s  ancestral roots in the French Quarter and the challenge of environmental sustainability in a hurricane-prone region.

I spoke about Sedona’s pivot to an innovative sustainability philosophy built on public, private, and nonprofit partnerships, a far cry from the days when destinations simply aimed to grow visitation. The interest that greeted my remarks show that destinations recognize the importance of community wide partnerships and specific plans to balance the local economy, quality of life, environmental stewardship and visitation.

Upon my return last week, I was inspired by the many examples of how Sedona’s innovative sustainability model is progressing during presentations at the Community Pulse event August 25, sponsored by APS. Community leaders from the City of Sedona, USFS, Big Park Coordinating Council and Northern Arizona Healthcare updated the public at this unique free event, and if you missed it, I encourage you to view a recording at

For the chamber, our FY22 goals include:

+  Advocating for our 735+ business partners and engaging our regional leadership to ensure smart growth. Arizona’s restrictions on short-term rental regulations presently handcuff the Sedona City Council and harm our neighborhoods and quality of life. That must change.

+  Partnering with the USFS on forest master planning and promoting new dispersed camping along FR-525 that will preserve the landscape, working with OHV rental companies on land stewardship and managing trash removal at Dry Creek trailhead and toilet facilities at Soldier’s Pass trailhead.

+  Supporting continued noise abatement with helicopter tour operators under the Fly Friendly Agreement.

+  Messaging responsible recreation on our public lands with Leave No Trace, and Tread Lightly!, a national organization focused on sustainable motorized outdoor recreation. This includes disbursement of visitors throughout the region and sharing lesser-known places.

+  Promoting the Verde Shuttle from Cottonwood and the forthcoming Sedona Shuttle to trailheads along with a micro transit system along 89A in Uptown Sedona.


As a 3-C Chamber we will continue to be a catalyst, convener, and champion for a healthy and sustainable community. I hope to connect with more of you at one of our upcoming networking mixers. Check out to learn more.

-Candace Carr Strauss,