Tourism Plan Serves as National Model


May 31, 2019


keeping-sedona-660x260Sedona made major waves in May as statewide and national media reported our move to sustainable tourism. More than 150 media sites picked up the news that Sedona is a national model for sustainable tourism management including Yahoo! Finance,, the Boston Herald and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

In Arizona, KTAR in Phoenix featured the news, as did County Wide Today on Verde Valley TV. The Plan was a key message from the Arizona Office of Tourism to tourism professionals around Arizona. And it’s not over. KAET’s Arizona Horizon will air a live segment on the Plan in June and PBS station KJZZ is also scheduling a report.

So it may surprise you to learn that while leading the charge to bring this Council-approved Plan to life, the Chamber’s proposed FY20 budget spends less than the maximum the current ordinance permits – for the second consecutive year.

Sedona is one of several Arizona cities that fund tourism management through visitor-paid bed taxes by designating 55 percent of bed-tax revenue for that purpose. But our FY20 budget, which for the first time is built entirely around implementing sustainable tourism, requests Council approval for only 52 percent of the expected revenue, or $2,492,500.

Last year at this time, The Chamber requested just 49% of bed-tax revenue, voluntarily opting out of a $400,000+ contractual increase to boost funding for Sedona in Motion projects and affordable housing – both key sustainability objectives.

These numbers are crucial because they show how efficiently the Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau manages City Council-approved tourism objectives and strives to minimize the need for maximum expenditure.

The Visitor Center is a perfect example. The Center serves 280,000 people a year at a per-visitor cost 45% below the national average for similar-sized Centers. Prudent management has allowed us to keep the Center budget at $410,000 for FY18, FY19, and we are asking for no increase in FY20.

The expertise at the Center is crucial to Year One of sustainability. The staff and volunteers are a veritable fountain of information that will educate hundreds of thousands of visitors to be sensitive guests, route them to less-crowded trails, show them walkable routes, suggest less-visited sites (to disperse crowds), and offer information about local businesses for everything from gifts to meals to lodging. Eighty percent of our members say the Center is essential to their success.

This efficiency and expertise will be crucial as begin a groundbreaking, first-of-its-kind Sustainable Tourism Plan. We are confident we have the right plan, the right community coalition and the right budget to achieve the Council-approved short-term tactics.

As we move into summer and take our first sustainable steps together, I hope you will join with us or one of the many organizations around Sedona making it happen. You can be sure we will bring efficiency, expertise and a love of community to managing our new direction in tourism, one that will keep Sedona the Most Beautiful Place on Earth.

Jennifer Wesselhoff, President/CEO