Let’s talk about Chamber funds

July 13, 2018


Panoramic view of the beautiful landscape of Sedona in Arizona.With Council approval of a $2.17 million Tourism Bureau budget, people are asking how Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau funding works.  I’m happy to explain!

Here are the key points:

Visitors, Not Sedona Residents, pay for the Tourism Budget

The Tourism Bureau is a division of the Chamber of Commerce.  Its budget comes from the City bed tax, which is paid by guests staying at lodging facilities in the city.  As a Sedona resident, you do NOT pay this tax unless you stay at a hotel within the city limits.

The bed tax – and the Tourism Bureau budget – is specifically designed to be paid by Sedona’s visitors, not residents.

By ordinance, the Tourism Bureau receives 55 percent of the bed tax.  Forty-five percent goes to the City’s General Fund.

Member Businesses, Not Sedona Residents, pay for the Chamber of Commerce budget

The Chamber of Commerce function is funded entirely by fees paid by local businesses and organizations that belong to the Chamber. There is no tax money involved in the Chamber functions, and Chamber employees are not public employees.

As you can see, the Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau are two distinct functions with different funding sources, neither of which are paid for by a tax on Sedona residents.

The Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau Manages Tourism at the Direction of Many

The Chamber is the official Destination Management & Marketing Organization for the Sedona area, accredited through Destinations International.  Destination Marketing Organizations are typically funded through bed taxes.  Since the Sedona Chamber began more than 65 years ago, we have managed Sedona’s tourism and the job of attracting visitors during off-peak seasons and mid-week.

Every year, we seek out the opinion of local businesses, organizations, affinity groups, non-profits, land managers and residents as we develop our Destination Services Plan. In January of this year, the Chamber Board met with the City Council to review strategies that best balance tourism with our environment and character.

In June, the City Council reviews and approves the final tourism budget as well as the annual Destination Management and Marketing Plan.

This Year, the Tourism Bureau Declined a Budget increase

Due to a rise in bed tax revenue, the Tourism Bureau’s FY19 allocation was scheduled to increase by $268,900.  We agreed to use this increase to help pay for Sedona in Motion transportation improvements instead of additional tourism programs.

The Budget Reflects New Priorities of Preservation, Quality of Life, Stewardship

For the last three years, priorities are shifting as the community addresses traffic and other challenges to our quality of life.

Like so many people, we recognize a need to preserve Sedona’s unique character while keeping the economy stable.  This year’s budget features reinvestment and sustainable approaches that prioritize our priceless natural and cultural heritage.  Working together, we will create a Sedona offering residents and visitors alike better-managed traffic, a well-preserved environment, and a more memorable experience.

You can learn more about how our budget works, complete with full-color graphics, by visiting our blog at sedonachamber.com.  Or join Chamber Board members and me for an open ‘Coffee Chat’ Monday morning at 9 a.m. at our Chamber Administrative Office, 45 Sunset Drive, beginning July 9.

–Jennifer Wesselhoff, President/CEO

Listen to what Jennifer Wesselhoff says about Tourism Funding: