SCC&TB Visitor Center serves residents and visitors
THIS ARTICLE APPEARS IN THE RED ROCK NEWS
April 28, 2023
While some are less than pleased with the number of visitors who come to our beautiful town, we sometimes fail to recognize that we were once tourists ourselves. What drew us to Sedona, in addition to its beauty, was the amazing hospitality we received while staying here.
The beauty and grace that enamored us about Sedona should be reciprocated in the form of kindness — treating our locals and visitors with the respect they deserve.
The Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau’s Visitor Center [VC] in Uptown Sedona at Forest Road and State Route 89A is critical to orienting travelers, many seeing Sedona for the first time. Most may not be aware of the services offered or the questions being asked of the volunteers who work at the center, seven days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
It’s interesting to note that so far this year, an average of 10,482 tourists have passed through the Visitor Center doors each month. That’s more than the number of residents who live in Sedona. According to the U.S. Census, approximately 9,700 residents were recorded in 2021.
The high number of annual walk-in visitors are uniformly satisfied when asked to rate their Visitor Center experience. Our VC volunteers are highly trained and capable of giving advice on respecting Red Rock Country while hiking or staying in short-term rentals, finding outdoor experiences of varying length and rigor, entertainment and art options, dining choices, where to stay, renting bikes, or finding free water bottle refill stations and EV Charging sites.
We also need to point out that the number of hours our volunteers work each, and every day is priceless. These dedicated individuals come to work, mingle with crowds of people, and say that they love their job, while not being paid one cent.
In fact, we did the calculations. During the timeframe from July 2022 to April 18, 2023, our volunteers worked 5129.75 unpaid hours — that amounts to $163,126.05, if salaries were paid.
I could go on, but you see the point. The VC is a nerve center of customer service, providing necessary information to those who use the info immediately. Orienting visitors who have already arrived and are ready to explore is a tourism management basic.
VC workers often provide information arriving guests don’t have — such as how to camp, hike and interact with the environment carefully and responsibly. We complement the work of agencies with limited hours, such as the USFS and the city of Sedona, which is open four days per week. Visitors can buy National Park and Red Rock Passes at the VC, and they are guided to use Sedona’s shuttle service.
Additionally, over 4000 emails and phone calls [so far this year] are answered in a timely manner. Volunteers stay on top of the weather, road closings and wildfire danger levels to inform travelers.
Long-time residents know the Visitor Center, once our headquarters in the 1950s, was built on land leased from the Forest Service. It has been a part of the Sedona landscape for generations. When a Phoenix company acquired the property in the 60s, the prospect of losing the building was imminent. The Lions Club stepped and helped us obtain ownership of the building. Located on the exterior of the Visitor Center is a plaque commemorating the Lions Club’s support of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce.
As we look to the future of tourism management in Sedona, change is certain. However, our highly esteemed volunteers at the Visitor Center will continue to offer the same genuine services — welcoming and guiding locals and visitors from around the globe.
–Michelle Conway, President/CEO
Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau