What’s critical to achieving sustainability in Sedona?



June 10, 2022


Michelle Conway CEO

Do you need ideas to make your website better? The Sedona Chamber of Commerce and Yavapai SBDC are hosting a virtual workshop with the support of APS. On June 15 from 10 – 11 a.m. discover how to create a search friendly website that goes beyond great design. The information will help you with business objectives, creating a great user experience, creating captivating content, optimizing your site and measuring your success. RSVP for the link to attend at SedonaChamberEvents.com. 

Last week, I was honored to be selected by the Sedona Chamber Board of Directors as the President/CEO of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau. I have been serving as the Interim President/CEO since March.


I want to reiterate my thanks to the Board of Directors for their confidence, and our Chamber staff and volunteers for their dedication and hard work. I also want to thank you, our residents, for your passion and willingness to engage in civic life. I will need your support and ideas in my new role, and I know I can count on you.

Several concepts come to mind when I consider the tasks before us: partnership, patience, cooperation, unity, and most importantly – balance.

Like me, if you have tried yoga, you know balance is a never-ending effort requiring constant adjustment. That’s sustainable tourism in a nutshell; never finished and continuously being refined. But, like a yoga practitioner, you notice progress over time.

Sedona Trailhead Shuttle

In our case, we have witnessed several recent milestones. The Sedona Shuttle trailhead service launched in March was an immediate hit, with total boardings now topping just over 80,000. Combined with the USFS parking lot closures at two of the four trailheads the shuttle serves, we see less congestion and neighborhood disruption as many residents attest to.

We donated $102,000 to the Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund to maintain the Red Rock Ranger District trails. $52,000 comes directly from 52 generous Chamber business partners, with the balance from the Chamber tourism management fund – bed taxes paid by visitors and allocated to the Chamber by the City Council. Most recently, 50 environmental conservation banners went up along SR179 and in Uptown, promoting the Sedona Cares Pledge and Leave No Trace responsible recreation principles to visitors and residents alike.

None of these developments happened overnight, and all required those key partnership concepts of patience, cooperation and balancing our economy with our environment and lifestyle.

As residents, you and I are indeed critical to achieving sustainability, but the key lies in the hands of our visitors. If our guests pack out trash, respect wildlife, observe fire restrictions, support locally owned businesses, use transit and other alternative transportation, stay on trails, respect the peace and quiet of our neighborhoods, and expand their horizons to include the entire Verde Valley – our sustainability mission is more than half complete.

If we fail to communicate our expectations of our guests, we leave it to others (like some of those on Instagram) to define us – a dangerous proposition. Without our visitor education efforts, too many will think that Sedona is all about selfies and OHVs. Instead, we must paint the picture of Sedona as a place where we expect our visitors to take responsibility and act sustainably – an image they must have in mind before making their plans and also while they’re here in market.

Our success depends on unity. You, our City Council, the Chamber as a certified Destination Management Organization, our USFS partners, nonprofits and Chamber members all have a say in how we move forward together. Next week, we meet with our tourism management partners at the City of Sedona to complete plans for our FY23 strategies.  I look forward to sharing our final plans with you, and hearing your voice as we unfold an exciting, sustainable future.

Michelle Conway, Interim President/CEO
Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau