Sedona’s Sustainable Tourism Plan makes its mark



December 16, 2022


Milky Way over Snoopy Rock: Photo courtesy of John GaffordRecently, we saluted two developments that address Sedona’s affordable housing shortage: The City Council’s vote to purchase the Sedona Cultural Park and the Sedona Oak Creek School Board’s decision to convert a portion of the Big Park School property into housing for educators. These actions follow the city’s October purchase of a $1.5 million lot on Shelby Drive for workforce housing.

This kind of affordable housing progress, so crucial to Sedona’s Sustainable Tourism Plan, deserves headlines. But just under the radar of most Sedonans, other groups are also making steady sustainability progress based on Plan objectives.

• In the last 18 months, The Oak Creek Watershed Council [OCWC] organized six voluntourism events, most recently in September. Volunteers collected 3,100 pounds of trash and debris. One hundred twenty-three out-of-town visitors contributed 492 volunteer hours.

• The OCWC continually samples water quality at high-use areas such as Slide Rock Park. You can see its most current water quality reports at

Keep Sedona Beautiful invited a specialty lighting manufacturer to tour ten properties grandfathered under Sedona’s Dark Sky ordinance to determine the best products for bringing those properties into compliance. The Sedona City Council provided a $10,000 grant to help fund conversion costs and keep Sedona’s skies dark.

The Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund, boosted by the Chamber Trail Keepers‘ $102,000 donation, completed 275 miles of trail maintenance this year, built and armored 3,440 feet of retaining walls, installed 122 rock stairs and naturalized 3.7 miles of unofficial “social” trails, among many other achievements.

• Chamber partners are integrating Leave No Trace visitor education messages at concierge desks, in-room videos, the Visitor Center and other places around Sedona where visitors will see the Leave No Trace principles of responsible outdoor recreation.

• City of Sedona and Chamber water bottle refill stations have dispensed the equivalent of tens of thousands of water bottles in the last 24 months, preventing plastic contamination of the landscape and landfills.

• We keep STP progress up to date online at You can see Sedona’s status in adopting nontoxic pesticides, reducing single-use plastics, recycling, installing EV charging stations, supporting zero-waste events and adopting best business practices that conserve water, reduce waste and save energy.

The City Council approved the Sustainable Tourism Plan in 2019 after a Chamber-led community engagement process, but the Plan is by no means a ‘Chamber-only’ production. Dozens of civic groups are committed to achieving specific sustainability tasks, complete with metrics and timelines. The Chamber is taking the lead on many of these. We even tie our annual destination management programs and budget proposals to the Plan’s long-term goals of balancing the four pillars of economy, environment, lifestyle and visitor experience.

Sustainability is not only essential to ensuring Sedona’s allure for generations to come, but it also aligns with the values of the enlightened, sophisticated visitors we aim to attract. These affluent travelers seek destinations that act boldly to preserve their lifestyle and environment while setting elevated expectations of their guests. These ‘sustainable travelers’ want to make a positive difference while developing a long-term relationship with their favorite destinations. They tend to be pre-committed to supporting locally owned businesses and connecting with residents while taking pride in doing their part to sustain uniquely beautiful natural places like Sedona. They travel further, stay longer and spend more per day — characteristics that can help alleviate traffic and overcrowding.

As we pursue our community mission of preserving our lifestyle and environment for their own sake, we can be further motivated by knowing the STP makes sense for our economy — one of the four pillars of a sustainable Sedona.

(Photo courtesy of John Gafford)


Michelle Conway, President/CEO
Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau