By Tommy Acosta —
Sedona, AZ –The city is now tasked with managing tourism after crowning itself as the new Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) for Sedona.
All eyes are upon the city and its council as they walk a treacherous plank above the stormy waters churning beneath as they try to come up with a plan to curb runaway tourism yet attract visitors who would spend money and stay.
TripAdvisor just named Sedona as one of the most beautiful places to visit and stay.
Everywhere in the travel business world, Sedona is being lauded for its beauty, its restaurants, its resorts and hotels; its hiking, its spirituality and healing nature; its adventures, and everything else under the sun one could enjoy in one of the most beautiful places on earth.
This is going to draw even more visitors. The harder you try to draw the moneyed in, the destitute will still come in droves to bask in the bountiful amenities Sedona offers.
Clogged roads during the busy season are a fact of life. Sedonans are just going to have to learn how to deal with it.
Maybe if we paint the red rocks black, put up signs reading “People who make less than $100,000 turn around and go home,” put roadblocks up for those who drive into town, tear up the runways at Sedona Airport, we might tighten the tourist faucet a bit. But they will find a way to come anyway. The mystique of Sedona is just too much of a draw.
The council and city are dealing with a growing visitor tsunami that in no means shows any sign of abating.
There will be many ideas discussed as the city tries to find a way to slow down the influx of day-trippers and increase the number of those who come to stay for a few days and spend money.
But there just ain’t no way they can do that without bringing those who come for a day or two, fill the hiking trails, eat in the more affordable establishments, then go home.
It’s been suggested targeting people who fly into Phoenix for a vacation, but no doubt most visitors drive, and that means more cars on the road.
The city will not be able to make most Sedonans happy no matter what it tries to do or recommends … except business owners in town, whether they live here or not. They are most pleased when they see the mile-long traffic jams paralyzing residents trying to get from one side of town to another.
And let’s not forget the ATVs that will continue to proliferate when the city fails in its effort to ban or regulate them. These companies are marketing Sedona on their own, drawing just the kind of visitors the city council does not want.
The city is damned if it does and damned if it don’t. While it tries to draw the affluent, its destination marketing will only increase the number of cars on the road because the less affluent are going to come regardless of the effort to attract money spenders.
It’s simple multiplication. Basic addition.
Those involved in the effort, both city staff and Sedona citizens, should be commended for undertaking this almost impossible task to redefine tourism in Sedona.
But it all goes back to this question…are we the owners of Sedona or its stewards?
Sometimes trying to change something that cannot be changed requires changing oneself instead.