Sedona is a Shared National Treasure
Sedona residents are privileged and blessed to be living in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. We enjoy magnificent surroundings, clean air, year-round recreation, all things many who do not live here travel to enjoy, even if only for a day, because they can. Conversely, Sedona residents, because they can, travel to enjoy other parts of the country and the world and would likely not take it well to be viewed or treated as unwelcome by their chosen destination’s residents.
Sedona is often touted in the top “most desirable” lists of vacation destinations in the US by the travel industry. The economy is good. Phoenix, our closest market, is growing. We are well-positioned to achieve balanced growth.
Most Chamber and non-Chamber business owners who provide us with the dining, shopping and entertainment options we enjoy are also residents of Sedona and rely on visitors to sustain them. We cannot turn back time to the days of one stop light in the middle of town, any more than we can revert to the population numbers of the same time. Growth is inevitable. Yes, it poses problems, which can only be solved by reasonable, responsible discussion and cooperative action.
It therefore becomes our charge as responsible and reasonable citizens of a fine community to recognize the connectedness of these elements and find a synergy through intelligent management of our resources. Chamber leadership has accepted its position in the charge and has altered its strategy and financial allocations accordingly. We’re fighting to find a balance – the ‘Sedona sweet spot’ – a tourism management approach that can ease traffic, keep taxes low, preserve our environment and keep our economy and employment picture healthy.
The ‘sweet spot’ – or sustainable – tourism approach aims to ‘square the circle’ by attracting fewer visitors who will stay longer, emphasizing respect and appreciation for Sedona as the core experience. It means educating visitors to be sensitive to our culture and environment while supporting the local economy. In addition to attracting fewer, higher quality visitors, we are working toward building pedestrian-flow plans that makes walking and shopping a pleasure; promoting trips to lesser-known attractions; using technology to help people find parking quickly; expanding local transit and investing in traffic improvements. Fewer visitors who stay longer reduces traffic without hurting businesses.
Our door is always open to discussing our specific strategies and actions with those who wish to know. Attend a Monday morning coffee chat at the Chamber Administrative Office at 9am, ask a board member, or call for an appointment with Chamber staff.
The Sustainable Tourism Plans purpose is to guide strategies to focus on the ‘Sedona sweet spot’ year after year, change our tourism picture by balancing our economic requirements while protecting our culture, quality of life and environment. This first Sedona Sustainable Tourism Plan is racing for the finish line. This summer, we’ve surveyed hundreds of Sedonans and community groups with excellent results. On September 5 and 6, we’re hosting visioning sessions to review what we’ve learned, hear your reaction, and get ready to unveil a new tourism direction in the fall. We encourage attendance and respectful dialogue.
During the past 23 years as a resident of Sedona, I’ve served on the Community Foundation and Airport Authority Boards and managed the Flagstaff and Sedona Medical Center Foundation offices. I know growth and change are challenges that bring out the best in many Sedonans, and I believe that will be true this election season.
Let’s not blow up all we’ve built. Let’s find Sedona’s sustainable future together. Many cities would love to be in the position of having to find such a tourism “sweet spot.” Let’s embrace this challenge with open minds and respect for each and every member of our community.
Please visit FutureOfSedona.com for time and location information on ways to connect with the Chamber and participate in Sustainable Plan visioning sessions.
–Stephanie Giesbrecht, Chairman of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau Board of Directors
Listen to what Kegn Moorcroft says about Sustainable Tourism management: