Sedona DMMO Environment
AS SEEN IN THE RED ROCK NEWS
February 12, 2021
The Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau is proud to be Sedona’s certified DMMO – Destination Marketing and Management Organization – the only one in Northern Arizona, working to maintain the balance of our visitor economy’s impact. In this role, we led the development of the first Sustainable Tourism Plan in the state via an 18-month community engagement process to identify our community’s priorities that reflected our values so that we could then manage tourism with those priorities at the forefront.
When the Chamber Board and I met with the City Council last week during our annual retreat, we opened that meeting with the acknowledgment of our mutual purpose to serve as stewards of Sedona, for all her place consumers – residents, business owners, employees, visitors, wildlife and nature.
What followed was an open and candid conversation on where our management strategies need to take us into FY22 as we move toward a “new normal” post pandemic. We will be reconvening with Council soon to share our draft destination services strategy and proposed budget which will take into consideration how COVID has changed not only our lives individually, but also the behavior of our visitors as well as how our businesses have had to adapt to serve them.
To refresh for many of our new residents, our four priorities, or the “pillars” the community identified as critical to sustainable tourism include: the environment, local quality of life, our tourism economy, and the experience of our visitors.
These pillars are interconnected. Most importantly however is the direct relationship between a vibrant tourism economy and your quality of life as a Sedonan. How is that you might ask? Visitor spending generates tax revenues for our local municipalities far greater than the comparative income of most communities our size. These revenues transplant the need for a city-imposed property tax, and their reinvestment into our public services, parks and trails, vibrant community events and significant transportation improvements, such as the Uptown 89A project completed last summer, are just a few examples.
Each pillar stands on its own as well. You can track Sedona’s progress on the Environment pillar at VisitSedona.com/sustainable-tourism-plan/four-pillars/environment. One noticeable environmental issue is the uptick in trash on our trails and roadways. There is no definitive reason why this is happening; a factor may be the increase in “day-trippers” during the pandemic. People driving into Sedona for the day are not always educated on how to recreate responsibly including to pack in/pack out the trash they create. Our Sedona Cares Pledge with an emphasis on the Leave No Trace principals was created to provide that education to our visitors, and we will be looking into how we can get this message out more broadly to these newer guests.
A first step is to convene all our stakeholders for a Trails Impact Town Hall (date TBD), to identify impacts of our various place consumers, and brainstorm ways to mitigate them such as by placing signage with educational messaging, more trash receptacles and removal services, and mobilizing our passionate community volunteers and local merchants to assist us in addressing these pain points.
As stewards, we ourselves have an obligation to walk the talk. Most of us believe we are already savvy about interacting with our sensitive red rock environment, but there is always more to learn. For example, do you know each of the 7 Leave No Trace principles, and more importantly, are you abiding by them?
Our newest web page, SedonaLeaveNoTrace.com, gives an excellent synopsis of each, such as Principle #4, ‘Leave What You Find:’
“Do not disturb rocks, plants or our precious archaeological artifacts. If you clear an area of surface rocks, twigs or pinecones (for camping), replace them when you leave.”
Further, I invite you to join us at the upcoming Leave No Trace webinar on Wednesday, February 17 from 8 to 9:30 a.m. Leave No Trace staff will present ways all of us can use the principles to be a part of the solution. RSVP at SedonaChamber.com/Chamber-Events.
Your Sedona Chamber & Tourism Bureau embraces our DMMO role, guided by the four pillars of our co-created Sustainable Tourism Plan. Thank you in advance for your passion and for your participation over the coming months as we together work to ensure Sedonans and visitors alike can contribute to keeping Sedona the Most Beautiful Place on Earth.
–Candace Carr Strauss, President/CEO