Situation & SWOT Analysis – FY23

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 of Sedona’s vision is to be a City Animated by The Arts
  • Galleries: 80+ galleries and shops
  • Artistic Community: Resident and visiting artists
  • Events/Festivals: Large variety of weekly, monthly, and ongoing annual events such as Sedona Arts Festival, Sedona International Film Festiva, Red Rock Music Festival
  • Native American heritage sites and culture
  • Live entertainment • Performing Arts
  • Film and Western history
  • Public art installations
  • Culinary: Variety of dining options and unique regional fare
  • Area Wineries: American Viticultural Area designation
  • Various Tours/Activities
    • Wine tastings and tours
    • History: Sedona Historical Society and Sedona Heritage Museum, nearby heritage sites and national monuments



  • World-renowned vortexes
  • Wellness: Volume of quality resorts, spas, and luxury offerings
  • Environment and amenities conducive to well-being including exercise and nutrition •
  • Opportunities to connect with others and the community through events, dining, and voluntourism
  • Spirit of interconnectedness
  • Native American heritage sites and culture
  • Events/Festivals: Large variety of ongoing annual events such as the Sedona Yoga Festival
  • Various Tours/Activities 15 o
    • Metaphysical & Spiritual: World-renowned offerings including products, services, and treatments
    • Personal Enrichment: Exploration and education
    • Yoga Classes
    • Meditation Retreats
    • Healthy Cuisine, cooking classes


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


  • Sustainable Tourism Plan: Arizona’s first – a long-term community-developed plan that strives to balance four key pillars: quality of the underpinning tourism economy and amazing visitor experience with environment and resident quality of life.
  • Sedona’s beautiful natural resources including the world-famous Red Rocks
  • Oak Creek and the Verde River, one of Arizona’s few remaining flowing rivers/streams
  • Certified green businesses through the Sedona Verde Valley Sustainability Alliance
  • Voluntourism Opportunities: Oak Creek Watershed Council, Keep Sedona Beautiful, Sedona Recycles, Friends of the Verde River, Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund.
  • Eco-Tourism: “responsible travel to natural areas that conserve the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education” (The International Ecotourism Society)
  • Sedona Cares Pledge
  • Sedona’s Secret 7
  • Partnership with Leave No Trace
  • Ongoing StrawFree Sedona program
  • Transit Systems – Sedona Shuttle and Verde Shuttle

SWOT Analysis


  • Commitment from City of Sedona in partnership with the SCC&TB to sustain primary tourism economy and visitor management
  • Strong SCC&TB generation of private sector revenues for tourism-related purposes • Sense of stewardship of and connection with the environment
  • Leader in destination sustainability efforts: Sedona Sustainable Tourism Plan is Arizona’s first • Natural beauty of the Red Rocks and surrounding scenery, photo opportunities
  • Sedona brand name recognition • Strong online reputation with high ratings • Strong attraction to high income visitors • High level of repeat visitation to destination – 45% (Source: 2018 STP Visitor Intercept Study)
  • Variety of tourism products
  • Love for the destination by residents and visitors (“Red Rock Fever”)
  • Renowned outdoor recreation destination with nearly two million acres of open space • Connection and proximity to other desirable tourism destinations – Cottonwood, Clarkdale, Camp Verde, Jerome, Flagstaff – with different attractions that can be leveraged to attract visitors for longer stays and assist with visitor distribution
  • Geographic proximity to major drive markets (Phoenix; Las Vegas)
  • Proximity to the Grand Canyon National Park • Recognition as a prestigious art destination
  • Recognition as health, wellness, alternative medicine destination • Diversity (geographic, businesses)
  • Great weather, four mild seasons • Friendly and safe community • Small-town feel with larger city amenities
  • Knowledgeable staff and volunteers at the Visitor Center
  • Very strong Uptown Visitor Center connection – almost 300,000 visitors served annually pre-COVID; over 100,000 in FY21
  • Above average lodging performance (Occupancy and ADRs) during COVID compared to southern Arizona counterparts
  • Increased market share of Northern Arizona overnight visitation


  • Anti-tourism sentiment from local, vocal minority and their demands of City and SCC&TB staff
  • Destination marketing “pause” for FY22 and FY23 by Sedona City Council
  • Educating visitors on recreating responsibly was limited in FY22 to within city boundaries, prohibiting the ability to communicate with the larger public during their trip-planning phase
  • Shrinking school district with socio-economic diversity erosion due to high cost of living and no housing inventory
  • High labor demand with limited workforce supply
  • High cost of living due to dramatic increase in home prices and low to no inventory
  • Limited affordable housing affecting labor supply
  • Short-term Rentals: Limited long-term rental units due to conversion to STR inventory
  • Short-term Rentals: Impacts on traffic and neighborhoods, competing workforce needs with commercial hotel operators
  • Infrastructure capacity issues
  • Overcrowding at popular trails
  • Traffic congestion during high seasons
  • Lack of parking including parking for RVs and motor coaches
  • USFS recreational use versus commercial permitted use, and convoluted Red Rock Pass system 17
  • City sales and bed tax rates at upper end of competitive destinations • 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”
  • Construction projects impacting visitation during continued Sedona In Motion road improvements
  • Tax discrepancy with lodging outside of city limits and timeshares
  • Limited air services in/out of Flagstaff and/or limited overseas air services in/out of Phoenix
  • Minimal meeting space
  • High labor turnover
  • Low quality of service


  • Capitalize on Phoenix convention market for pre/post overnight visitation
  • Future Developments o Consider development of unique multi-use meeting venue o Future Developments – Uptown, Cultural Park o Development of multi-modal/walkability master plan o Create or establish visitor, RV and motorcoach-friendly parking areas
  • Expand range of events, focusing on those that can be enhanced or have extended duration
  • Sedona’s product in direct correlation with national/international travel trends
  • Exchange rates/world economy
  • Alignment with Arizona Office of Tourism’s efforts particularly related to seasonality
  • Expanded range of public transportation
  • Deepening attraction of meetings niche segments
  • Product development in newer areas of tourism – arts, wellness, culinary, voluntourism
  • Expanding visitor origin markets into markets with proven sustainable practices
  • Enhance Red Rock Trail Fund program for additional trail amenities and maintenance
  • Dispersing visitors to a variety of areas • Sedona In Motion infrastructure improvements
  • Short-term Rentals – Embrace new market to positively affect inevitable shift in lodging options
  • Increased/returned domestic and international air service to Phoenix, Flagstaff and Prescott


  • Wildfires, Forest closures, road closures
  • Ongoing COVID-related issues such as the introduction of variants and the impacts
  • Competition from other destinations – significant expansion in their destination marketing budgets particularly coming out of COVID-19 as SCC&TB marketing continues to be paused
  • Arizona destinations positioning Sedona as a day trip destination
  • USFS: Permitting process and minimal commercial permits potential restrictions
  • “Instagrammable Travel”: Managing user-generated content that promotes high-use areas
  • Decrease in work force supply
  • Continued growth of Short-term Rentals
  • Immigration reform – negative perceptions directed to Arizona
  • ADOT road changes and construction projects
  • Population growth in Maricopa County and other drive markets
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