Tourism FAQ’s

1.    What is a Chamber of Commerce and a Tourism Bureau and how are they structured?
2.    How many members does the Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau have?  Tell us about the make-up?
3.    How is the Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau funded?
4.    What does the “Tourism Bureau” part of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau do?
5.    What is a DMMO?
6.    What is the bed tax?
7.   Why does the Chamber & Tourism Bureau receive a portion of the City bed tax?
8.    Can I see a copy of the contract between the City and the Chamber?
9.    Why does the Chamber Tourism Bureau get money from the City of Sedona?
10.   Is the City required to spend bed tax on tourism?
11.   How to the bed tax revenues flow? Do the funds go directly to the Chamber?
12.   Does the city have input on establishing the Sedona bed tax rate? What is the mechanism for that? How was that arrived at?
13.   Does the city have specific input into how the Chamber expends the funds it receives under the contract?
14.   Does the Chamber & Tourism Bureau receive 100 % of the bed tax revenues?
15.   What is the Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau’s budget?
16.   How do you promote Sedona?
17.   How does the Chamber benefit Sedona residents?
18.   Are you responsive to the community?
19.   Are you successful? And How do you gauge success?
20.  Can I see the SCC&TB quarterly tourism reports to the City?
21.   Can I see a copy of the SCC&TB federal tax return?
22.  Can I see a copy of the Chamber’s annual reviews/audits?
23.   Why is Tourism Important to Sedona?
24.  What are the Sedona Chamber’s top sustainability initiatives?


1. What is a Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau and how are you structured?

Chambers of Commerce are private, nonprofit, member organizations made up of business owners and non-profit organizations in and around Sedona.  The SCC&TB is a 501(c) 6 non-profit, whose mission is “To serve the community by making Sedona the best place to live, work, play and visit.” We succeed by helping Sedona businesses succeed.

We have approximately 850 members. Their businesses range from lodging, restaurants and galleries to IT, retail and sole-proprietorships.  65 % of our member businesses are located within the City limits of Sedona.  All members pay annual dues and fees that fund the Chamber.

The Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau is guided and overseen by a volunteer Board of Directors composed of local Chamber members and elected by the Chamber membership.

The Board employs a President/CEO who implements the policies established by the Board, administers Chamber programs and supervises the Chamber’s budget.

The Tourism Bureau is a separate division of the Chamber of Commerce which implements the contract with the City of Sedona.  The Tourism Bureau markets and manages tourism and its impacts on the area.  As Northern Arizona’s only certified Designated Destination Marketing and Management Organization (DMMO), the Sedona Chamber has provided tourism marketing services to the City since the 1990’s.  The Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau is one of only 216 accredited organizations and one of only four in the state.

2.  How many members does the Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau have?

Chamber membership is constantly changing as more businesses join.  Currently, there are approximately 850 member-partners, 65 percent of whom operate in the City of Sedona.

Accommodations 82
Arts & Culture 46
Associates 17
Associations & Organizations 74
Attractions & Entertainment 43
Business & Financial Services 44
Churches & Places of Worship 16
Community & Professional Services 87
Construction & Sub-Contractors 26
Dining & Drinks 71
Marketing & Media 37
Medical & Healthcare 32
Outdoor Recreation 23
Personal & Spiritual Enrichment 86
Real Estate 44
Retail Shopping 65
Tours & Sightseeing 33
Transportation 5
Travel Services 9
Weddings & Venues 6

 

3.  How is the Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau funded?

The Chamber of Commerce and the Tourism Bureau are separate divisions and perform distinct functions:  The Chamber of Commerce function, which is to assist local businesses to grow, is funded strictly by dues and fees paid by members.  The Tourism Bureau is funded by bed tax revenue collected from visitors to Sedona. Its function is to both market and manage tourism and its effects on the community.

Chamber functions are completely funded by dues and fees paid by member businesses. All members belong voluntarily; no business is required to join the Chamber of Commerce.  Absolutely NO public money is used for Chamber of Commerce member functions and we receive NO funding from the City of Sedona or Sedona taxpayers to fulfill those programs.

The Tourism Bureau’s functions are funded by a portion of the bed tax levied by the City of Sedona, paid by visitors who stay at lodging facilities within the city limits.

4.  What does the “Tourism Bureau” part of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau do?

We market Sedona and take the lead in managing our biggest industry, which has a $600-million-dollar annual impact on our local economy and is directly responsible for approximately 10,000 local jobs.

As a nationally recognized Destination Marketing and Management Organization (DMMO), certified by Destinations International, we have contracted with the City of Sedona to promote and manage tourism since the 1990’s.  On behalf of the city, we work with visitors, travel agents, tour operators, media and meeting planners to distribute official destination information, helping them in their destination decision-making.

As Sedona has become more popular with visitors from around the world, we are shifting our focus to include environmental preservation and community quality of life issues in managing our visitors.  In fact, later this year, our first Sustainable Tourism Plan will set out strategies to help us place sustainability at the heart of the visitor experience.

5.  What is a DMMO?

A destination marketing organization (DMO) or destination marketing and management organization (DMMO) or convention and visitors bureau (CVB) promotes a town, city, region, or country in order to increase the number of visitors. It promotes the development and marketing of a destination, focusing on convention sales, tourism marketing, and services.

The Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau is nationally accredited by Destinations International and is the only certified DMMO in Northern Arizona, and one of only five accredited organizations in the state.

We promote economic development by promoting and managing visits from tourists and business travelers, which generate overnight lodging, visits to restaurants, shopping revenues, jobs and tax revenues for local services. The economic impact of tourism in Sedona is estimated at $600 million annually from our roughly 3 million annual visitors.

This year, we are continuing to respond to the challenges of traffic and seasonal overcrowding by partnering with the City, ASU and the Nichols Tourism Group to develop a Sustainable Tourism Plan that will help preserve our quality of life and unique community character while educating visitors and helping disperse foot and vehicle traffic.

DMMO facts, from Destination Marketing Association International’s 2015 Organizational & Financial Profile Study (the most recent data available):

•    Smaller and mid-sized DMMO such as Sedona reported receiving approximately 90% of their total funding from public sources
•    More than 87% reported receiving hotel room tax revenue, by far the leading source of public investment
•    Of 246 DMOs surveyed, the 2015 average annual budget was $3.39 million
•    By far, the most frequent DMO organizational structure is 501(c) (6) – 60% of all reporting DMOs

6. What is the bed tax?

The bed tax is a municipal tax, created and approved by a City Council, levied on guests staying at lodging facilities in that city.  Arizona State law permits cities to create this tax to raise funds for tourism-related purposes.  State law also permits cities to enter into contracts with nonprofits such as Chambers of Commerce to put bed tax funds to work marketing and managing local tourism.

That’s what is happening in Sedona. The City of Sedona has a contract with the Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau to use a portion of bed tax revenue to manage and market Sedona as tourism destination.  As the region’s only certified Destination Marketing and Management Organization (DMMO), the Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau is nationally recognized as an expert in tourism marketing and management.

Currently, the bed tax rate is 3.5 percent, which is in addition to the 3 percent sales tax hotels pay on gross revenues.  The practical effect is that visitors to Sedona not only provide our tourism promotion budget, but also contribute (through sales tax) to the city’s General Fund, which pays for police, parks, transportation and other vital services Sedonans use every day.

7. Why does the Chamber & Tourism Bureau receive a portion of the City bed tax?

The bed tax was created specifically to market Sedona as a destination without taxing Sedona residents.  Only visitors staying at hotels in Sedona pay the bed tax. There is NO direct tax on Sedona residents to pay for tourism promotion.

State law permits cities to create this tax to raise funds for tourism-related purposes.  State law also permits cities to enter into contracts with nonprofits such as Chambers of Commerce to put bed tax funds to work marketing and managing local tourism.

Typically, cities around Arizona (and the U.S.) do exactly that.  They use bed taxes to raise tourism marketing funds and have contracts with nonprofits, often Chambers of Commerce, to promote and manage tourism.  As a certified DMMO, the Sedona Chamber is the leading regional expert in tourism promotion and management.

8.  Can I see a copy of the contract between the City and the Chamber?

Absolutely!  The entire document is here, complete with performance measures and reporting requirements.

9.  Why does the Chamber Tourism Bureau get money from the City of Sedona?

It is well-established around Arizona and the United States that contracting with a qualified, certified DMMO is a cost-effective and productive way to utilize bed tax dollars to promote and mange tourism.

Most cities, especially smaller cities like Sedona, don’t have the staff expertise to promote and manage tourism. They also recognize the cost effectiveness of contracting the service to a qualified agency rather than creating a city “Tourism Department.”

State law acknowledges this as well, expressly permitting cites to enter into tourism marketing and management contracts with nonprofits.  Many Arizona cities do so, often contracting with their local Chambers of Commerce.

Sedona gets a win-win from the City’s contract with the Chamber.  Not only is the Chamber a 501c (6) nonprofit eligible under state law to enter into a tourism contract, we are also a certified Destination Marketing & Management Organization (DMMO).  The SCC&TB is, in fact, one of only four certified DMMOs in the state. Having deep roots in Sedona is a big plus.  We have been advocating for balanced economic growth and management for more than 65 years.

10.  Is the City required to spend bed tax on tourism?

Yes, a portion of the collected bed tax is required to be spent on promoting tourism. State law allows cities to levy a bed tax for the specific purpose of the promotion of tourism, which can include (but is not limited to) cultural exhibits and sporting events; contracts with nonprofits for the promotion of tourism; expenditures to develop, improve or operate tourism-related facilities and assist in the planning of tourism attraction and facilities. In the case of Sedona, 55% has been allocated to the promotion of tourism.

11.  How to the bed tax revenues flow? Do the funds go directly to the Chamber?

Technically, the tax paid by hotel visitors goes to the state first, which then distributes the revenue to the City of Sedona, which distributes the revenue to the Chamber for tourism marketing and management.

12.  Does the City have input in establishing the Sedona bed tax rate?  How was it determined?

By law, the bed tax rate is determined by the Sedona City Council. The current rate is 3.5 percent.

It was raised from 3 percent to 3.5 percent in 2013 for the express purpose of attracting visitors to Sedona. At that time, city staff, elected officials, business community representatives, and the Chamber reviewed and recommended the increase together, and it was approved by the City Council.

13.  Does the City of Sedona have input in how the Bed Tax funds are utilized by the Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau?

Yes. The City Council identifies priorities and policy direction for tourism marketing and management and must approve the plan and the budget presented by the Chamber & Tourism Bureau to meet those priorities and direction.

The Chamber develops the destination marketing and product development plan based on the expected results identified by the City Council. These plans include measurable outcomes with a focus on high-value visitors over the quantity of visitors.

The contract requires the City and Chamber to collaborate each year, in a joint work session, to set specific goals and objectives for tourism. The Chamber presents a full scope of work to the Council based on this collaboration that includes detailed performance metrics. We deliver quarterly progress reports and a minimum of two public presentations.

Every year, the City Council reviews and approves the Chamber’s annual Destination Marketing Plan and proposed budget prior to allocating bed tax revenues to fund the Chamber’s marketing activities.

14. Does the Chamber & Tourism Bureau receive 100 percent of the bed tax revenues?

By an ordinance adopted by the Sedona City Council, the Chamber of Commerce is allocated 55 percent of bed tax revenue, with 45 percent being retained in the City of Sedona General Fund.

In FY19, due to an estimated increase in bed tax revenues, 55 percent will total $2,445,300, an increase of 11 percent ($268, 900) over FY18.  The Chamber agreed to forego the increase and the $268,900 has been routed to help pay for Sedona in Motion Transportation improvements.

15.  What is the Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau’s budget?

The Chamber of Commerce is a private nonprofit funded through by fees paid by members.  There is NO tax money involved in the Chamber of Commerce functions, budget or operations.

The Tourism Bureau is a division of the Chamber of Commerce and is funded by a portion of the Sedona bed tax.  In FY19, the Tourism Bureau budget, as unanimously reviewed and approved by the Sedona City Council June 12, 2018, is $2.17 million.

Budget highlights include:

•    A third-party audit scheduled for FY18 financials
•    23% to be reinvested in Sedona, including completion of Sedona’s first Sustainable Tourism Plan
•    NO INCREASE in marketing budget
•    Proposed $268,900 increase routed to Sedona in Motion transportation improvements
•    LA and Chicago continue as out-of-state target markets
•    Emphasis on relationships with  planners to increase mid- week meetings/conventions

You can see the entire budget memo here.

16.  How do you promote Sedona?

wheelEffective destination marketing and management requires a long-term approach based upon a platform of destination visioning and tourism planning.  The planning is guided by goals, objectives, and specific projects that promote the sustainability of tourism and align with residential concerns and desires.

Positioning Sedona as a premier destination is a balancing act, distinguished by built-in opportunities, challenges and the continual need for innovation. At the SCC&TB, we have a track record of working with our industry partners to build upon past successes, while simultaneously embracing change.

Marketing, sales, communication efforts and product development initiatives known as Sedona Reinvestment Programs help us to reach the SCC&TB’s mission – “To serve the community by making Sedona the best place to live, work, play and visit.”

With the future in mind, we strategically balance between maintaining Sedona’s brand awareness which has taken years to build, while also developing programs that will assist in managing tourism impacts on our community.

We seek to ensure that the sales and marketing platform strikes the right balance between communications that engage, inspire and educate.  We continue to strive for breakthrough communications and utilize all available resources to enhance and energize messages about Sedona, especially through videos and images.

We market Sedona only during the need seasons of summer and winter and promote largely to overnight markets (Southern California and Chicago), targeting demographics with above-average household income to encourage increased length of stay.  Further details can be found in the FY19 Destination Services Plan.

17. How does the Chamber benefit Sedona residents?

Our businesses are your neighbors, and their success is the community’s success. We live here too, and we celebrate the same triumphs and we hurt just the way you do when our city suffers. That’s why our Sustainable Tourism Plan is such an important next step in seeing what the future of Sedona could look like.

Many Sedonans are unaware of the number of programs we’ve created that directly benefit Sedona’s residents.  You might be surprised to know how many ways the Chamber benefits the community we serve.

18. Are you responsive to the community?

The benefit of having a local Chamber of Commerce that is also a local Destination Management and Marketing Organization is that we’re available to you.  We’re a dedicated organization that is invested in our community and in YOU.  We are a friendly, small, close-knit group that prides itself on being responsive and nimble.  Review our Vision, Mission and Values.

As part of our community outreach, we invite you to join Jennifer Wesselhoff, President/CEO and Chamber Board members Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. at the Chamber Administrative Office at 45 Sunset Drive for an informal coffee chat.  She is here to answer questions and hear any thoughts you have on Chamber and Tourism Bureau-related community issues.

19.  Are you successful? And How do you gauge success?

Since the beginning of our FY14 contract term with the City of Sedona, we have seen increases in occupancy and average daily rate – two metrics that are commonly used nationwide in the tourism industry.  But we don’t stop there.

In review of tax data from the City of Sedona (thru December 2017*), we also saw:

•    A 19% increase in bed tax revenues YTD FY18 over FY17
•    $9,004,343 additional monies spent on lodging YTD FY18 over FY17
•    An 8% increase in sales tax revenues YTD FY18 over FY17

focusWhile lodging metrics are critically important to consider for a healthy tourism economy, in Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19, representing July 2018 – June 2019), we are also considering three other Focus Areas: Quality of Life, Stewardship of the Natural Environment, and the Quality of the Visitor Experience.

This will allow us to look at the future of Sedona from a holistic approach for real sustainability. The completion of our Sustainable Tourism Plan, which is currently in development, will help provide benchmarks allowing us to measure success in these areas.

We will continue to use research as our foundation for the SCC&TB’s strategies.  Recent research efforts indicated the following, which appropriately mirrors our marketing strategies:

•    75% of those who receive our official Experience Sedona Guide visit Sedona within 15 months.
•    98% of visitors believe that Sedona is an excellent (68%) or good (30%) place to visit compared to other options.
•    Spending per day by overnight visitors has increased from $500 (in 2015) to $552 (in 2016) to $618 (in 2017) – indicating that we are successfully attracting a more affluent audience who will stay in Sedona longer and spend more at our businesses, enhancing our economy.

growth-rate*Data provided by City of Sedona Finance Department and based on most recent December 2017 monthly report.

If you’d like to review the quarterly reports that we provide to the City of Sedona as part of our contract, you can find them on the Sedona Chamber website under Latest Tourism Bureau Reports.

20.  Can I see the SCC&TB quarterly tourism reports to the City?

Yes. Our quarterly reports to the City of Sedona and much more useful data can be found at our Report and Research page.

21. Can I view the SCC&TB federal tax return?

Yes. For your convenience, we’ve posted the last three years’ tax returns here.

22.  Can I see a copy of the Chamber’s annual reviews/audits?

Absolutely. You’ll find the last three year’s of our financial audits/reviews here. The SCC&TB is currently undergoing an audit for FY18 and will post the document here when available.

23.  Why is Tourism Important to Sedona?

Approximately 3 million annual visitors plan their escape from the city noise, lights and pollution to visit our slice of southwestern heaven. Once they arrive, we kindly greet them at hotels, restaurants, events, galleries, state parks, spas, golf courses, healing centers, movie theaters, grocery stores, gas stations and more. 10,000 people greet them as that is the magic number of professionals it takes to welcome our wonderful guests. We wholeheartedly welcome all nationalities, ages and religions, as these guests have saved their income to visit Sedona above all other stunning destinations around the globe.

Visitors supply our city with 70% of the tax base needed to maintain and support our beautiful streets, protective police department, community parks, local events, scenic trails, vibrant neighborhoods and the thriving business community. These funds generously support valuable organizations that residents deeply depend on such as the Community Center, Food Bank, Humane Society, Meals on Wheels, Public Library and Sedona Recycles.

As the benefits of tourism trickles down, contractors, plumbers, welders, electricians, architects and landscapers are employed for continual upkeep, renovations and growth. Grocery stores, hardware stores and convenience stores keep their shelves stocked with local produce and products. When visitors fall in love with Sedona enough to relocate, they invest in land or property which employs real estate professionals and land developers. The benefit is cyclical and imperative to Sedona’s economy and culture.

24.  What are the Sedona Chamber’s top sustainability initiatives?

Our beloved Sedona is the priority!  Here are some of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau (SCC&TB) programs having a positive impact – all funded solely by tourism dollars.  We’ve identified four Sedona Reinvestment Programs: Stewardship, Transportation, the Arts, and Wellness.

reinvestment-infoSustainability runs through everything we do. We know we must preserve our land and scenic beauty — while also sustaining Sedona’s #1 industry – tourism.

Click here to view what we are doing to “Give Back”



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