Situation & SWOT Analysis – FY21

Situation Analysis

We conduct a Situation Analysis each year as part of our planning process.  The Situation Analysis looks at the definition of our tourism product; a SWOT analysis which requires us to identify our Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats; and, critical factors for success as it relates to Sedona tourism.

Sedona’s “reason to visit” is its stunning scenic beauty, which draws travelers from around the world.  Additional attractions and visitor interests fall under the following four areas: Arts & Culture, Wellness, Outdoor Adventure and Sustainability.


Arts & Culture

  • City’s vision is to be a City Animated by The Arts
  • Galleries: 80+ galleries and shops
  • Artistic Community: Resident and visiting artists
  • Events: Large variety of weekly, monthly and ongoing annual events
  • Culinary: Variety of dining options and unique regional fare
  • Area Wineries: Wine tastings and tours
  • Native American culture and heritage
  • Live entertainment
  • Performing Arts
  • Film and Western history
  • Public art installations
  • Nearby heritage sites and national monuments
  • Sedona Heritage Museum



  • Volume of quality resorts, spas and luxury offerings
  • Metaphysical & Spiritual: World-renowned offerings including products, services, treatments and education
  • Personal Enrichment: exploration and education
  • Yoga Classes
  • Meditation Retreats
  • Eco-Tourism
  • Vortexes
  • Spirit of interconnectedness
  • Native American heritage sites and culture


Outdoor Adventure

  • Hiking: A system of more than 400 miles of accessible, interconnecting trails
  • Biking: 200 miles of single track available; Sedona and surrounding areas are very bicycle-friendly for road bikes; Bicycle Friendly Community designation
  • Air Tours: Hot air balloons, helicopters
  • Land Activities: Jeep, ATV, Segway, Hummer, OHVs
  • Water: River tours, fishing, swimming
  • Golf: Public courses
  • Birding: Opportunity to deepen engagement
  • State Parks and nearby National Parks
  • Scenic Drives: Oak Creek Canyon, Red Rock Scenic Byway, Dry Creek Scenic Rd
  • Stargazingimg_5870-1000x250


  • Sedona’s beautiful natural resources
  • Verde River:  One of Arizona’s few remaining flowing rivers
  • Certified green businesses through the Sedona Verde Valley Sustainability Alliance
  • Organizations that visitors can get involved with:  Oak Creek Watershed Council (regularly implements voluntourism programs), Keep Sedona Beautiful, Sedona Recycles, Friends of the Verde River
  • Sustainable Tourism Plan:  A long-term community developed plan that will manage and balance four key pillars: environment, quality of life, quality of the economy, and the visitor experience.

SWOT Analysis


  • COVID-19:  Expansive and open outdoor spaces are particularly attractive to consumers who are considering virus prevention
  • Renowned haven for outdoor adventure lovers with nearly 2 million acres of open space
  • Sense of stewardship and connection to environment
  • Recognition as an esteemed art destination
  • Recognition as health, wellness, alternative medicine destination
  • Leader in destination sustainability efforts: Official Long-Term Sedona Sustainable Tourism Plan
  • Diversity (geographic, businesses)
  • Great weather, four mild seasons
  • Red rocks, scenery, photo opportunities
  • Sedona name recognition
  • Location (geographic proximity to Grand Canyon and major drive markets)
  • Friendly and safe community
  • Small-town feel
  • Knowledgeable staff and volunteers at the Visitor Center
  • Above average lodging performance (occupancy and ADRs) and growth
  • Increased market share of Northern Arizona overnight visitation
  • Strong attraction to high income visitors
  • High level of repeat visitation to destination – 40%
  • Strong SCC&TB generation of private sector revenues for tourism-related purposes
  • Very strong visitor center connection – almost 300,000 visitors serviced annually
  • Commitment from City of Sedona to assist in sustaining primary tourism economy and managing visitation
  • Variety of tourism products
  • Love for the destination by residents and visitors (“Red Rock Fever”


  • High labor demand with limited workforce supply
  • Access and proximity to major airports
  • Lack of public transportation (including access to USFS trailheads)
  • USFS recreational use versus commercial permitted use, and convoluted Red Rock Pass system.
  • Limited regional integration of products and experiences
  • City bed and sales tax rate at upper end of competitive destinations
  • Limited locations and parking for motorcoach and commercial tour groups that are allowed to visit
  • Distinct high/low seasons
  • Limited knowledge of travel distribution system by local businesses
  • Viewed by travel industry professionals as “too expensive”, “no room availability” or “too many regulations to bring visitors”
  • Limited air services in and out of Flagstaff and/or limited overseas air services in and out of Phoenix
  • Minimal meeting space
  • Tax discrepancy with lodging outside of city limits and timeshares
  • High cost of living due to home prices
  • Limited affordable housing affecting labor supply
  • Limited long-term rental units due to increased inventory of short-term vacation rentals
  • Infrastructure capacity
  • Wayfinding signage
  • Lack of parking
  • Traffic congestion during high seasons 


  • COVID-19:  Sedona’s open spaces and positioning as conscious destination putting future travelers at ease
  • Expand range of events, focusing on those that can be enhanced or have extended duration
  • Development of a festival/event venue – expansion of Posse Grounds Park
  • Capitalize on Phoenix convention market – pre/post event connection and meeting planners
  • Exchange rates/world economy
  • Population growth in Maricopa County and other drive markets
  • Sustainable Tourism Plan:  Addressing environmental, socio-cultural, and economic areas of focus, ultimately benefiting residents’ quality of life, the environment, and the visitor experience
  • Sedona’s product correlation with National/International trends in travel
  • Expanded range of public transportation
  • Deepen attraction of meetings niche segments
  • Product development in newer areas of tourism – arts, wellness, culinary, vountourism
  • Create or establish visitor/motorcoach-friendly parking areas
  • Expanding visitor origin markets into emerging markets
  • Maintenance of trails and trail amenities
  • Dispersing visitors to a variety of areas
  • Development of multi-modal/walkability master plan
  • Enhanced parking availability
  • Sedona In Motion infrastructure improvements
  • Short-term Rentals – Embrace new market to positively affect inevitable shift in lodging options
  • Increased air service to Phoenix, Flagstaff and Prescott


  • COVID-19:  Far-reaching economic effects due to decrease in consumer confidence of the travel industry; uncertainty of available air service in/out of Phoenix and Flagstaff; and, decrease of consumer interest in travel
  • COVID-19:  Arizona Office of Tourism possible redirection of designated target markets
  • COVID-19:  Decrease in work force supply
  • Traffic congestion impacts on visitor/resident experience
  • Construction projects impacting tourism during Sedona In Motion road improvements
  • Short-term Rentals – Impacts on traffic, commercial hotel operators and neighborhoods
  • Annual fire season
  • Arizona Office of Tourism limiting international representation in mature markets
  • Alignment with Arizona Office of Tourism’s efforts particularly related to seasonality
  • Competition from other destinations – significant expansion in their destination marketing budgets
  • Arizona destinations positioning Sedona as a day trip destination
  • Immigration reform – negative perceptions directed to Arizona
  • Traffic, ADOT road changes and construction projects (i.e., closing of SR 89A & SR 179)
  • “Instagramable Travel”:  Managing user-generated content that promotes high-use areas
  • USFS:  Permitting process and minimal commercial permits
  • USFS:  Potential closures of recreational sites due to fire/flooding
  • Perceptions of the U.S. and Arizona as a destination by foreign markets
  • Air Services (cancelations/changes) to gateway cities
  • Limited funding for trail maintenance and development
  • Shrinking school district