Tourism slowdown is hurting Sedona business, triggering competitive disadvantages
THIS ARTICLE APPEARS IN THE RED ROCK NEWS
November 25, 2022
I hope you are savoring Thanksgiving leftovers and a busy Black Friday today. It’s crucial to shop local this year. Our merchants need your support. Hundreds of locally owned businesses — from multi-generational family enterprises to new-in-town entrepreneurs — they look forward to serving you.
Last week, we discussed the recent update to the City Council and the economic warning signs appearing in our largest industry — tourism. The Chamber’s presentation showed how visitors and our competitor destinations create an unbalanced image of Sedona and encouraging travelers to take their vacations elsewhere.
With our marketing still on pause, our presence advocating for Sedona as a place that lives and breathes respect for red rock country and where travelers do the same is absent. So that leaves the door open to our guests, who define Sedona much differently.
During a recent Sedona Lodging Council meeting, Mayor Sandy Moriarty spoke up urging businesses to send emails to the city and attend city council meetings to discuss how a lack of tourism is affecting your business. She reiterated that the hoteliers have been vocal about communicating a downturn in tourism, and residents have made it “loud and clear” their disdain regarding over-tourism. However, area businesses such as art galleries, restaurants and retail establishments have been absent from the platform. Council needs to hear your voice. We urge you to reach out to city council or attend meetings to help change the course of our current limited marketing efforts.
Meanwhile, Expedia confirmed that competitor destinations have skillfully wooed tourists away from Sedona, while we sit idle. Cities such as Palm Springs, Santa Barbara and Santa Fe have seen an increase in hotel bookings and visitation, while Park City, Jackson Hole and other similar environmentally sensitive destinations show how strategic messaging to potential travelers can support economic and environmental sustainability.
In a Chamber membership survey taken this month, 83% said lower tourist traffic affects their bottom line, with 44% saying a lack of destination marketing hurts business. 77% said they expect to lose money or break even through February.
The message seems straightforward: We need to implement a creative strategy for attracting informed visitors willing and eager to participate in the sustainable destination movement. They are out there. Among the prosperous, educated, longer-staying travelers we seek, the ethos of responsible travel — embracing local culture and supporting the local economy — is strong. We need these seasoned travelers in our shops and restaurants.
In January, we will present to City Council, our ideas which honors our commitment to a sustainable economy, as well as a healthy environment for our businesses. We could use your support.
–Michelle Conway, President/CEO
Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau