Recent Tourism Survey Reveals Community’s Common Goals
Here are just a few of the Sedona survey results that had people talking at our Sustainable Tourism visioning sessions this month:
• Sedona residents and visitors want parks and trails that promote a “leave no trace” philosophy and locally-owned tour operations that have a low environmental impact.
• Though 50 percent of residents and 56 percent businesses think tourism is at the right level, twice as many residents (43%) as businesses (22%) say Sedona should be less reliant on tourism.
The visioning sessions drew more than 100 people to the Sedona Rouge Hotel & Spa September 5 and 6. ASU and the Nichols Tourism Group released data from surveys that included 1,000 visitors, more than 780 local businesses, 1,000 randomly-selected Sedonans, and focus groups with ten nonprofits and nine land-management agencies. This exhaustive community canvass is all part of the Chamber of Commerce and City of Sedona drive to craft Sedona’s first Sustainable Tourism Plan.
In the surveys, most residents say they are okay with more public transportation, parks, cultural amenities, and outdoor recreation to meet tourism demand, but do not want more accommodations or motorized recreation.
Most say current tourism levels are acceptable if traffic flows are improved and Sedona takes a sustainable approach to tourism management. Sedonans recognize the role of tourism in providing tax revenue, job creation, and community amenities – but worry about quality-of-life issues such as overcrowding.
Although 43 percent believe Sedona should strive for a less tourism-dependent economy, more than half say they do not want to see lower-quality services or higher taxes which might result from reduced tourism.
Residents also make a distinction among the types of visitors who come to Sedona, expressing a preference for friends and relatives; people who visit for cultural reasons; those who come during low-tourism seasons, and visitors who are here for non-motorized outdoor recreation, such as hiking. Most Sedonans would prefer fewer tourists pursuing motorized outdoor recreation and visiting during the high season.
Sedonans expressed support for more public transportation, public restrooms and better walkability to improve tourism management.
Although there is much left to do and we will continue to listen carefully, one early conclusion from the results is that the Chamber and the City are aligning with community priorities by building transportation improvements and crafting sustainable tourism plans. Both projects aim to mitigate traffic, reduce overcrowding, preserve the environment and sustain a healthy economy.
I look forward to sharing more insights from the surveys in my next column – such as what businesses and community groups have to say. Can’t wait? The full survey presentation is at FutureOfSedona.com along with a video of the September 6 visioning session. There is also a comment portal to add your thoughts on tourism which we will include in the public input that’s helping shape the final Sustainable Tourism Plan over the next few months.
I look forward to sharing more next week, and I hope you take a few moments to check out FutureOfSedona.com.