Tourism Budget and Traffic Unrelated
AS SEEN IN THE RED ROCK NEWS
January 25, 2019
It’s always exciting to see community collaboration in action, so last week’s joint meeting of the Sedona City Council and the Chamber Board of Directors was a thrill for me. Tourism was the topic, and traffic concerns remain at the top of everyone’s list of concerns.
As the City readies for a major Uptown Sedona in Motion (SIM) project beginning at the tail end of spring, we worked with Council to address misconceptions about tourism and traffic – and reviewed what we are doing to help.
First, some residents believe an increased tourism budget equates to more cars on the road – one leading to the other. This is not true. The current Council-approved tourism budget strongly emphasizes reducing and dispersing traffic – not increasing it.
For example, during the busy traffic seasons of spring and fall, the Chamber does not advertise at all. Tourists are drawn by our already well-known reputation as “The Most Beautiful Place on Earth.”
Instead, our overall marketing strategy — focused on the slower summer and winter seasons — seeks to attract visitors who stay longer and who are attuned to an ethos of respect for our environment and small-town quality of life.
It’s part of our forthcoming Sustainable Tourism Plan, balancing the economy, quality of life, and environmental stewardship, and visitor experience in what we call the ‘Sedona sweet spot.’
One quarter of this year’s tourism budget is dedicated to reducing traffic by helping support SIM projects, enhanced public transportation, and more parking. Much more of the budget is spent managing visitors while they are here.
Tourism spending is also improving vehicle and pedestrian movement by encouraging people to get out of their cars and explore our lesser-known sites with programs such as ‘Walk Sedona’ and ‘Sedona Secret 7.’
Our Visitor Center is another example of tourism spending that helps ease traffic flow by assisting visitors to get where they are going efficiently. The Visitor Center welcomes about 300,000 visitors a year, helping guests disperse throughout, shop local, walk rather than drive, and they help to plant the seed of “leave no trace” principles.
Of course, marketing campaigns are still important – with sustainability and traffic concerns as a priority. We expend our marketing dollars during the slower winter and summer seasons to keep our economy balanced at a time when traffic is less of a concern.
To sum up, tourism management spending does not correlate with increased traffic. On the contrary, the tourism budget is informed by an ethos of sustainability – decreasing traffic by attracting longer-stay visitors only when we need them, improving and dispersing pedestrian and vehicular traffic flow, and encouraging fewer visitors to enjoy a longer Sedona stay while respecting our unique environment and quality of life; all while contributing to our tax base to help pay for city services.
For updates on the Sustainable Tourism Plan, visit SedonaSustainable.com.
–Jennifer Wesselhoff, President/CEO