Sedona Phased Reopening



May 22, 2020

sunset in SedonaAround Sedona, phased reopening is more evident each day. Many stores are open, restaurants are serving, popular recreation sites are back, people are out.  Often-maligned day trippers, whose spending is sorely needed now, are here again. The energy is obvious.

So, what’s next?  The discussion has moved on from the early idea that economic revival is too risky to contemplate.  The real issue is now in focus:  balancing the risk to health with the risk to livelihoods and developing real-world strategies to meet the challenge.

The Sedona|Safe.Clean.Ready campaign is an important first step. Hundreds of businesses are volunteering to enact rigorous safety practices while delivering the message that customers – locals and visitors alike – must do their part. The campaign has been so well-received that our neighbors in Cottonwood are enacting it, too.  Find out more, including which companies have signed on, at

The next step leads to the economic middle ground between the devastation of the past three months and pre-coronavirus norms. In this middle ground, safety remains the priority while businesses reopen, and people recover their livelihoods. We are getting an early glimpse of what that looks like now.

As we move towards this new ground, we will move slowly to invite visitors back and strongly emphasize safe behavior. With assistance from the City and our partners, we will work to inform visitors of their crucial role in helping keep Sedona safe.

We plan on being more tortoise than hare.  Slow and steady wins the race.  We aim for a steady recovery in coming months so we can adapt quickly to developments, such as reports of COVID-19 cases, observed customer and visitor behavior, business and community feedback, and of course, the unexpected.

Overnight visitation is a reliable indicator of local spending. People who stay one night or longer spend more per day than day trippers and are more open to helping us achieve sustainability. For the summer months, we hope to achieve an average of 44% occupancy, or 30% less than last summer.

We intend to gradually ramp up occupancy with messages that resonate with the yearning for a place where natural beauty, openness and the lure of the outdoors soothes the psychological impact of a long shutdown and responds to the desire to keep a safe distance from others.  Our strategy illustrates a tempered response and balanced approach to monitoring public safety and economic livelihoods.

We are well positioned to do that. US Travel Association research shows “off the beaten path” destinations like Sedona, with our outdoorsy, health-and-wellness image and less density than cities, may recover better than national norms. Sedona’s hard work in developing a Sustainable Tourism Plan plays directly into this emerging trend.

Putting our safety first, we will execute in a restrained and thoughtful way with highly targeted messaging. We will continue to join forces with the Arizona Office of Tourism and the Sedona Tourism Economic Recovery Task Force.

As we know, gradual reopening does not mean the coronavirus is gone.  We are likely to see more COVID-19 cases as more people interact and as testing becomes more common.  But, with caution, regional and statewide coordination, and a recovery program with appropriate, measured goals and a priority on safety, we can resurrect our community, minimize our risk, and be ready for the many adaptations that no doubt await us in the months ahead.

–Jennifer Wesselhoff, President/CEO