Chamber: ‘Keep questions coming’

July 20, 2018


Some dramatic clouds and light from the setting sun on Catherdral Rock in Sedona Arizona.

We wouldn’t be Sedonans if we didn’t get passionate about our natural beauty and unique community character. Getting a handle on traffic and other impacts of tourism naturally generates strong feelings.

But sorting through our options requires awareness of tourism’s broader picture.

Tourism subsidizes City services at $2,630 per household

In plain language, tourists pay for services we use every day, such as police, street repair, and parks. This is because visitors account for more than 2/3 of the taxes that make up the bulk of the General Fund, which pays for these basics.

How much is that subsidy worth?  If the $13.5 million in taxes tourism generated last year were instead paid equally by Sedona’s roughly 5,125 households, the bill would come to about $2,630 per family!

Our world-class amenities plus the thousands of jobs and hundreds of businesses supported by tourism make it plain that a stable economy has to be a tourism-management priority.

Benefits require balance in mitigating impacts

These and other benefits are why we focus on balance as the Chamber and the City of Sedona complete the Sustainable Tourism Plan.  Sustainability means placing Sedona’s quality of life, natural environment, and unique character at the heart of the visitor experience.  For visitors, it means striving to have a positive impact by supporting the local economy and respecting local culture and expectations.

Right now, we are wrapping up the public input phase of the Plan, which is being assembled by the ASU School of Sustainability and the Nichols Tourism Group.  In September, we will host a community-wide meeting to review findings and get feedback.  We will finalize the date and location soon.  The Plan is on schedule to wrap up this fall.

Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau Receive NO Sedona taxpayer dollars

Last week, I reported in this column that the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau does not receive funding from Sedona’s taxpayers. People were surprised to hear that, and it deserves repeating.

The Tourism Bureau is funded by a ‘bed tax’ on Sedona’s hotel guests, not by Sedona residents. The Tourism Bureau is allocated 55 percent of bed tax revenue by the Sedona City Council and is charged with attracting tourists during mid-week and off-peak seasons and helping educate, inform and disperse visitors.

The Chamber of Commerce is funded entirely by our member organizations, not by tax dollars.

The Chamber & Tourism Bureau comprise two functions with two funding sources. Neither is paid by Sedona taxpayers.

We’ve launched a new website to give you the complete picture of our tourism budget and operations at

In my next article, I’ll be talking about specific businesses that Sedonans enjoy that rely on tourism to keep the doors open and review how the Chamber/City partnership is an effective approach to tourism management.

Please join me and Chamber Board members Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. at the Chamber offices at 45 Sunset Drive for an informal coffee chat.  We’re there to answer questions and hear any thoughts you have on Chamber and Tourism Bureau-related community issues.

–Jennifer Wesselhoff

Listen to what Michelle Conway says about Tourism Funding: