Responsible Travel in Verde Valley
THIS ARTICLE APPEARS IN THE RED ROCK NEWS
April 29, 2022
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In recent weeks, I have talked about visitor dispersion as an essential tourism management tool. By raising awareness of nearby attractions, we help visitors find new experiences outside of Sedona to complement their journey. The effect is to lessen congestion in Sedona while spreading tourism’s economic benefits regionally.
The rise of the Verde Valley as a wine-growing region encourages that strategy, and tomorrow’s Verde Valley Wine Fest in Cottonwood is an excellent example of how our expanding wine industry can ease some pressure on Sedona and Sedonans.
People are arriving from throughout the state for tonight’s pre-Festival activities in Cottonwood and tomorrow’s main Festival at Old Town Activity Park. VIP tickets for Friday and Saturday are already gone. Tomorrow’s General Admission tickets are going fast. The Festival features Arizona wineries, breweries and distilleries showcasing their local products alongside plenty of food, live music and Arizona artisans. It is a perfect opportunity for an outside-Sedona experience for visitors while sampling the Verde Valley’s excellent wines, whose reputation got a major boost last fall when the Valley achieved American Viticultural Area status, the same wine-growing classification enjoyed by the Napa and Sonoma valleys.
The Sedona Winefest, a local favorite for 12 years, is slated for September, another opportunity for visitor dispersion as guests can learn of Verde Valley attractions such as the Wine Trail, hiking and camping, and the Valley’s numerous historical sites.
As summer approaches, we can expect an influx from Phoenix as a growing urban population looks for a quick, cool getaway. Our partnership with the Sedona City Council calls for educating summer day-trippers, many unaccustomed to outdoorsy getaways, with tips on responsible recreation, helping them lessen their impact on our environment and lifestyle.
All this is happening as the US Travel Association celebrates National Tourism and Travel Week, marked by a surge in travel like America has never seen. Chances are you have travel plans this summer, too. With our firsthand experience on the impact of tourism, it is a good time to ask yourself: Do I travel responsibly, with respect for my destination? Check your travel habits against these tips from The Center for Responsible Travel, a global nonprofit dedicated to responsible tourism:
• Learn your destination’s environmental issues and find sustainable options, such as green hotels and voluntourism opportunities.
• Use eco-friendly transportation, like shuttle buses or bike rentals.
• Support locally owned businesses of all kinds.
• Seek out locally made souvenirs, such as art, handicraft, or other products.
• Hire local guides.
• Keep your voice down when in natural settings and do not approach or disturb animals.
• Stay on designated trails, and don’t remove natural objects – whether seashells or stones.
• Bring reusable water bottles and dispose of trash properly.
• Use limited resources wisely, such as water, fuel, and electricity.
• Respect traffic laws – use crosswalks and don’t cross against lights.
These are behaviors we expect our visitors to practice, and we Sedonans should model them when we travel. They also remind us that a certain level of mindfulness is required to be a responsible traveler, which may give us a little more patience with our guests as well as more appreciation for those who respect Sedona!
–Michelle Conway, Interim President/CEO
Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau